It was always highly unlikely that Liverpool would manage to get back into their Champions League tie against Real Madrid this evening. The damage was very much done in the first leg, with Carlo Ancelotti's side running out as 5-2 winners after a shambolic performance from the home side at Anfield.
Few gave them any chance of turning it around in Spain tonight. That would prove to be the case, with a late Karim Benzema strike proving to be the only goal on the night as Madrid ran out 6-2 winners in the tie.
Of COURSE Benzema scores ⚽️
He's made it 6-2 on aggregate to well & truly bury Liverpool in the tie pic.twitter.com/FTkGirym4H
— Watch the UCL on LiveScore 🇮🇪 (@LiveScoreIE) March 15, 2023
Overall, Liverpool's performance was average. They created a few decent chances, a couple of which drew excellent saves from Thibaut Courtois. On the other hand, they did look very open at the back and asked Alisson Becker to make a pair of world class saves in the first half.
In all, the game went about as expected. Once it was clear that the away side were not going to mount a famous comeback, it petered out into something of a non-event.
While the match itself was an uneventful one, it did have one interesting aspect for fans of the Premier League club.
Jurgen Klopp made interesting tactical change in Madrid
Knowing that Liverpool had to score at least three goals to have any chance to advance in this evening's tie, Jurgen Klopp opted to start the game with four of his attackers in the XI. Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez, Cody Gakpo, and Diogo Jota all started at the Bernabeu.
This also resulted in a change of system, with Liverpool moving to a 4-2-3-1 formation. Gakpo played as a no. 10, with Jota up front. In midfield, James Milner and Fabinho acted as a double pivot.
This may have been a one-off move due to the circumstances in the tie, or it could have given us a glimpse into the future of this team. It did not work particularly well in this game, although that's not to say it won't become a more regular occurrence in the near future.
It has been rare for Liverpool to move away from a 4-3-3 formation under Klopp, but it is clear that system has not worked to the same effect this season. A sizeable rebuilding job will be undertaken in the summer and more tactical flexibility could be part of that.
Considering the amount of talented attackers in the squad, this change would allow the club to get their best players on the pitch together more often. The likes of Gakpo, Nunez, and Jota can all fill different roles across the front line, with Luis Diaz also set to come back into the fold after his injury issues.
Tonight's game did show some of the pitfalls of such a system. They were often outnumbered in midfield, with Milner in particular overrun by the opposition.
Dipping into the transfer market would be an obvious solution to that issue. It's difficult not to think about how Jude Bellingham could thrive in this particular approach if Liverpool manage to pull off that signing in the months ahead. Even if they fail to bring in the Dortmund man, there are a number of other options that would be able to fill that position much better than their current options.
The game in Madrid was something of a non-event, something that was always likely to be the case considering the circumstances on the night. However, it may have given us an idea as to what Jurgen Klopp will be looking to do with this side in the coming months and, in particular, next season.
For Liverpool supporters, they probably can't wait to see the back of the current campaign and get an idea as to how the next generation of their team will take shape.