Liverpool defender Andy Robertson is confident they can beat Paris Saint-Germain in France and secure qualification for the Champions League group stage if they can rediscover their spark.
Defeat in Serbia against Red Star Belgrade means Jurgen Klopp’s side have lost their position of strength at the top of Group C and need one victory against either of their toughest opponents to make progress.
Failure to beat PSG in Paris would set up a tense must-win finale which could also entail needing a win by two clear goals to redress their head-to-head record against the Serie A side.
However, Robertson is confident they can get the job done in France.
“Of course, we have to. We believe we can win every game, that’s always been the case with us,” he said.
“We can perform a lot better than the two (away) games we’ve had, they’ve been off days and we need to look at that, of course we do.
“Away from home last season we were very good in the Champions League. This season we’ve found that a bit difficult .
“We’re still to play the best team away and we need to go there and put in a much better performance than we have done.
“We knew this group was going to be tough and it’s proving that way. It’s tight and it’ll go right to the wire.
“We’re still confident we’ll get through but we need to go to try and prove that now.”
Liverpool have just three victories in their last nine matches in all competitions – Red Star and Cardiff at home and Huddersfield away – and while not playing well was acceptable when they were winning, it takes on a different complexion after results like that in Belgrade.
Klopp thinks they need to rediscover the form which made them such a formidable proposition last season, blowing away sides with their intensity and and firepower.
Robertson accepts they have not been at their best over the last three months and that the high standard they set in the previous campaign is now what they will be judged on.
“I think it’s one of those periods we need to get through,” added the Scotland captain.
“Last season everyone was used to us scoring four or five goals. That can’t be possible every single game.
“At times we’ve dug out results, in the Premier League more so this season.
“Maybe it’s not been as good to look at but we’ve been effective at it but, yeah, maybe we are missing a bit of a spark in terms of not winning four or five-nil in most games.
“We need to come together as a team and try and get what the gaffer wants, try to get the spark and try to win games more comfortably.
“The lads are disappointed. There’s no hiding that. You don’t forget about these results quickly and that’s what happens.
“We’ll definitely have a debrief and I’m sure a few things will be said.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
A 2-0 defeat to Red Star Belgrade leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side needing a victory against either Paris Saint-Germain in the French capital in three weeks or Napoli at home in their final group game.
At the moment they stay top of the table on six points courtesy of goal difference and there still remain a number of permutations which will see them qualify.
However, it would be preferable to avoid a nail-biting Anfield finale which would require them to beat the Serie A side by two goals to overturn their head-to-head record against Carlo Ancelotti’s team.
Lallana, still edging his way back to full match sharpness after a period out with injury, accepts it is time for the players to step up.
“As players we’ve got to take take full responsibility and make sure it doesn’t happen again,” he told LFCTV.
“It’s still in our hands: if we win our next two games we go through, but that was a great opportunity missed for us.
“(It’s going to be) very tough. That’s the Champions League – there are no teams that enter this competition that give you wins.
“It wasn’t like us and we need to move on and improve if we’re going to go through to the knockouts.
“Of course there’ll be a reaction. It’s not the first time we’ve lost games, it’s about how you react and bounce back, but we’re thoroughly disappointed to come away (from Belgrade) with nothing.”
Zero tackles won from the Liverpool midfield of Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner & Adam Lallana in that first half.— LFC Stats (@LFCData) November 6, 2018
Klopp spoke of his side losing their mojo against Red Star but stressed he did not view it as a long-term issue.
However, his side have won just three of their last nine matches – against Red Star, Cardiff and Huddersfield – and it has been generally acknowledged they have failed to hit the heights of last season.
They conceded a goal from a corner and another from a loss of possession and quick counter-attack against Red Star, both uncharacteristic for the way the team have been performing.
“It was a slow start all round really and we gave them far too many opportunities, especially from set-pieces,” added Lallana.
“We had chances but we weren’t ruthless enough, weren’t patient enough. It’s not like us.
“It’s on us to take responsibility and we need to bounce back in the next two games.”
Provided by Press Association Sport
Milan Pavkov scored twice in seven first-half minutes to hand Red Star their first Champions League victory in 26 years.
Liverpool still lead Group C but could fall behind Napoli or Paris Saint-Germain, who meet in Italy later on Tuesday, and face both those sides in their final two group games.
Here are the talking points from a raucous Rajko Mitic Stadium.
LIVERPOOL’S MISPLACED ARROGANCE
Jurgen Klopp in his team selection (the German made three changes with Daniel Sturridge, Adam Lallana and Joel Matip being brought into the side), the team selected and perhaps even the Liverpool supporters were misguided in their belief they could simply turn up and walk all over Red Star Belgrade.
To be honest, there has been this misplaced arrogance to Liverpool all season, a self-entitled attitude in which they expect to produce results without actually needing to perform.
They have gotten away with it through the early part of the campaign but in Serbia, Red Star finally delivered an ego check.
Talent alone isn’t always enough to secure victories because without the mental traits of desire and tenacity, sides of any quality will always have an opportunity to humble you.
And the hosts possessed plenty of fortitude and just enough ability in key moments to see off the wretched Reds.
Indeed, for just about every aspect of the game, Liverpool were atrocious. Even basic fundamentals like first touches and crosses were well below the standard expected of this group, pointing to mental deficiencies.
There was no urgency, no vibrancy and certainly no accuracy. The performances all round were so dire, it’s difficult to actually pinpoint any single perpetrator. Klopp when asked if he can put his finger on went wrong, replied: “I only have 10 fingers…”
Only Mohamed Salah with his enterprise can escape being chastised. Three straight Champions League defeats for the first time in the club’s history and just two attempts on target in their last two away assignments point to problems.
Last season’s finalist are in serious danger of going out in the group stages, and given the conceited attitude, they deserve to be.
That rousing victory over Paris Saint-Germain in the opening fixture seems a long time ago now.
Want to know which player’s reputation has swelled in recent weeks? Jordan Henderson.
Without even playing the injured Liverpool captain’s importance on this team has been made obvious.
After all, who would have guessed that a midfielder with great communication, urgency and the ability to change tempo with accurate short passing would be so critical?
If you’re wondering what exactly it is that Henderson does, then just observe the state of Liverpool’s midfield in Belgrade.
James Milner was rightly hailed for his excellent start to the season, but he’s been well below the levels displayed in the early months.
Georginio Wijnaldum has similarly dipped and the performance from the midfielders was a nadir, but one that isn’t all that surprising given their one-paced and limited displays of late.
This collapse of confidence has been building and the return of an energetic Henderson alongside Naby Keita is fast becoming a necessity.
If there is one statistic which best illustrates the middle men’s dire display, it’s the fact zero tackles were won from the trio of Wijnaldum, Milner and Adam Lallana in the first half.
Incidentally, we haven’t mentioned Lallana. A 30-year-old injury-prone midfielder who looks past his prime and hasn’t come close to replicating the form of two years ago is not exactly the quality squad option Klopp was talking about when it came to the discussion of claiming trophies.
A 65.7 per cent pass completion rate for Lallana says everything you need to know about how well he played in Belgrade.
TIME TO TALK ABOUT ALISSON
Liverpool paid an extortionate amount of money to sign Alisson from Roma and suffice to say, the Brazilian is not exactly living up to the glowing reputation he developed in Italy.
Indeed, Liverpool’s resolute rearguard, led by the tower of strength Virgil van Dijk, has kept his workload relatively simple so far. But in the last two fixtures, cracks have appeared.
Just because he is far better than Loris Karius and Simon Mignolet, doesn’t mean that he should escape examination or that more shouldn’t be expected.
Against Arsenal at the weekend, the 26-year-old was extremely fortunate when he wildly flew out of his goal and clattered Henrikh Mkhitaryan who could have either scored or earned a penalty when his header trickled just wide.
In Belgrade, he was erroneous for Milan Pavkov’s second. Yes, the strike was sweet but the ball was within reaching distance only for the stopper to dive to his right and stretch for the ball with his left hand.
Respected analyst and former goalkeeper David Preece even backed the assertion he should have done better with the effort. Alisson is far from alone in that regard, though.