In what is perhaps illustrative of Liverpool's blunt attack against Manchester City, Lucas Leiva was Liverpool's best player in an unfamiliar centre-back position in yesterday's League Cup final.
Lucas began Thursday's Europa League clash against Augsburg at centre-back and was surprisingly selected by Jurgen Klopp to deal with Sergio Aguero at Wembley yesterday, and despite the initial fears of Liverpool fans - compounded early on with the departure of Mamadou Sakho causing Lucas to change to the left side - the Brazilian excelled.
He led Liverpool in a way the subdued captain Jordan Henderson failed to.
The stats accentuated Lucas' performance, recording more interceptions (eight) and clearances (six) than any other Liverpool player. He was also excellent in the air as Liverpool looked relatively solid at defending corners.
For those who are suspicious of stats as telling the full story of a performance, allow some of the praise the Brazilian garnered tell the story:
Well done Man City . Hard luck Liverpool Respect Lucas , didn't think you would make defending look so easy .
— Paul McGrath (@Paulmcgrath5) February 28, 2016
Never has the phrase 'praise from Caesar' been more appropriate. For Paul McGrath to say you make defending look easy is about as good as it gets.
Roberto Baggio endorses the above opinion. Elsewhere, the Liverpool Echo rated Lucas as Liverpool's best player, saying that he "should be proud of his showing, and nobody should hold his penalty miss against him".
The Guardian's Michael Cox was less effusive in his praise for Lucas, saying that he did ok against Aguero, but the Argentine did highlight his lack of pace. This, Cox says, owes more to Liverpool's remarkably brainless left-back Alberto Moreno, who was consistently caught out of position:
Agüero was determined to play up against Lucas, and having spent the opening moments in inside-left positions, now followed the Liverpool player across to the other side. Lucas had much more ground to cover here, however, because Liverpool’s left-back Alberto Moreno was always out of position.
Jamie Carragher was extremely critical of Moreno and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, saying on Sky Sports that both had to be taken out of the side:
The left-back has to come out of the team. This is not a one-off today in terms of the goal. Flanagan has come back fit and has to go into the team in midweek, he has to change the left-back.
Flanagan played left-back when they nearly won the league. He can't be worse than him.
It starts with the left-back Moreno [City's goal in the second half]. He splits initially from a goal kick, but now he knows isn't going to receive the ball he has to get back.
Sergio Aguero is in the right position to pick up the ball because his opposite full-back has gone in to go for a header. And then he [Moreno] doesn't see the run.
But that [Mignolet allowing the ball to pass through him into the net] is shocking. You can't score from there.
The midweek game Carragher refers is on Wednesday against, of all teams, Manchester City.