Liverpool goalscoring great John Aldridge believes Jurgen Klopp’s side are lacking a vocal presence in the absence of captain Jordan Henderson and defensive kingpin Virgil van Dijk.
Klopp’s side will attempt to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit in their Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday. Aldridge though suggests several factors are working against them.
“Without captain Jordan Henderson and defensive kingpin Virgil van Dijk, there was a lack of leaders out there and, in an empty stadium, you could hear there was no one driving the team forward,” he told sundayworld.com.
“Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips are new to the Liverpool first team, so they are quiet at the back, and the midfield doesn’t have any dominant characters without Henderson in there barking orders.
“Mo Salah, Sadio Mane and Diogo Jota are great players, but they are not what you would describe as leaders. It was one of several problems that stood out for me in a Liverpool side that will need to improve in all areas of the field if they are to have a chance to overturn their two-goal deficit against Real Madrid.”
Aldridge went on to suggest a clean sheet against Real Madrid will be essential if Liverpool are to have any hope of making progress. But he has admitted he is not convinced the 2019 European champions can turn the tie around.
“If Liverpool play as badly as they did in Madrid last week or even repeat their performance from yesterday against Villa, they will have no chance of turning around the 3-1 first leg deficit,” he added.
“Strange things can happen in football and looking back to 2019, I didn’t think Liverpool had any hope of getting back into the semi-final against Barcelona after they lost 3-0 at the Nou Camp.
“As we all know, that turned out to be one of the greatest comebacks in football history, but the big difference between then and now is the absence of Liverpool’s 12th man.
‘A lot of things need to click into place’
“In normal times, I’d fancy Liverpool to beat any team in world football 2-0 under the lights at Anfield with the crowd worth at least a one-goal start, but we are not in normal times.
“A lot of things need to click into place for Liverpool to have a chance to bite back against Real Madrid, and some of them might not be in their own hands.
“They need to keep a clean sheet and maybe even need Real Madrid to go down to 10 men to give them a realistic chance of getting back into the tie.
“Do I see any of this happening for a team that has been in a slump for too long to expect them to snap out of it against one of the biggest names in world football?
“Probably not, but nothing has made sense in this bizarre world over the last few months, so Liverpool fans can dare to dream another Anfield miracle might be possible.”