Jurgen Klopp admits he had to take Naby Keita off against Real Madrid as the Liverpool midfielder “was not in the game”.
Keita was hooked by his manager 42 minutes into the Champions League quarter-final first leg, with the Reds trailing 2-0.
Thiago was sent on in his place and helped Liverpool gain a foothold in midfield against a dominant Real Madrid outfit.
Mohamed Salah scored a significant away goal early in the second half for the improving visitors, although Vinicius Junior restored Los Blancos’ two-goal cushion after the hour-mark.
Klopp was quizzed on Keita’s substitution in his post-match interview and confirmed it was a tactical change – and claimed he could have made many more.
“I know it’s now a big story and I don’t like it any more to be honest,” said the German.
“But it was just Naby was not in the game, he was not the only one, but we need Naby in the game where he’s really part of playing football.
“It was tactical, let me say it like this, but I could have done a few more changes in that moment and thank God I didn’t.”
What went wrong for Liverpool in the first half? Have your say in the comments.
Asked what Liverpool need to overturn the deficit in the second leg, Klopp added: “Intensity with the ball, especially, because you cannot defend the speed of Real Madrid when you give them the ball in the completely wrong moments.
“If you lose the ball and you lose it in the right moments, you are in the formation, you play counter-press, can win the ball back.
“We lost the ball in the wrong moments, with so many easy passes where we passed the ball to their feet.
“That’s what they want to do, to switch the side and accelerate. When you have these really quick and world class players in one-on-one situations, that is not good. That’s not easy then for whoever is in that challenge for us.
“We just need to be in possession much better and defensively, as well, better, but it’s not about the last line, it’s about what we do before it’s there.”
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