Where it Went Wrong for Liverpool Against Besiktas
So, I had this article written up that I was quite proud of.
It detailed the opportunity that Liverpool had to gain much needed European experience by advancing to the later stages (possibly even winning) of the Europa League this season. It talked about how they were turning their season around, and this was a golden opportunity for them to earn a guaranteed spot in next seasons Champions League.
But you will not be reading that article due to a Dejan Lovren penalty kick that has still yet to hit the ground.
Let me start off by saying I don’t blame Lovren whatsoever for stepping up to take the fifth spot kick. However, I would think that most people would agree that you want your final PK taken by someone other than a CB that is not exactly brimming with confidence.
Keep in mind that with the exception of Lambert, and maybe Lallana, I don’t think anyone who took one today would be in Brendan Rodgers' ideal 5 takers. Let Can keep taking them though, because everyone knows that Germans (not named Schweinsteiger) don’t miss PKs.
This brings me to my first point: Why does Raheem Sterling not step up to take a penalty?
Prior to any being taken, I had guessed that Lambert, Can, Allen, Lallana, and Sterling (in no particular order) would be the takers.
I got four out of five correct, but was left scratching my head over why Sterling didn’t take one. He is looking for a big new contract. If you are looking for a six figure-a-week deal, then you are going to be looked upon as a leader. You cannot shy away in the biggest moments. That is exactly what Sterling did.
He has to put his hand up to want one. He and Sturridge were woeful throughout the course of the game. They appeared disinterested. If you can’t get up for a European game, at the ground of your club's most historic night in recent history, then what can you get up for? Maybe they are tired.
And now my second point: Why bring off your best spot kick taker, when in the extra time, all you are going to do is sit back and hold on until PKs?
This confuses me.
Rodgers decides to bring off Mario Balotelli, in a game in which he was much more effective than Sturridge and Sterling. We never looked like scoring after the first half.
I get bringing on Adam Lallana, but why not bring him on for Sterling, especially if he has no intention of stepping up to take a penalty. Balotelli was walking a tight-rope being on a yellow, but he had played 70 minutes with it already. He was the only forward putting in effort, and he is rewarded by being subbed.
Third and final point: If your main focus is the Europa, then why not play one of your most in-form players?
If Rodgers truly had his eyes set of winning the Europa, then Philippe Coutinho should have played.
Yes, the squad that he brought should have had enough to win, but why chance it? Why not bring and play your best 11? If you are going to go for it, truly go for it. Yes Coutinho needs a rest. He could have rested against Palace, West Ham, the first-leg against Bolton, Villa, Sunderland, or AFC Wimbledon this year so far.
I don’t get resting him in one of the most crucial games of the season.
I am usually pretty good at being optimistic, and they do have a real chance at still finishing in the top 4 this year, but not if they play like they did in Istanbul. This is a tough one to swallow, especially because of all the optimism that we had heading into this game.
They will learn from this experience, and we go again this Sunday against Manchester City.