The stand-in captain and manager of AC Milan have both lauded the greatest asset of Liverpool after admitting they were overwhelmed by the Reds.
Liverpool kicked off their Champions League campaign with a 3-2 victory over AC Milan on Wednesday night. Handed the proverbial ‘group of death’ that also contains Atletico Madrid and FC Porto, three points at Anfield was almost a must.
And victory is what Jurgen Klopp’s side ultimately achieved despite having to come from behind after the break.
Liverpool dominated the vast majority of the contest but for a brief five-minute spell prior to half time.
Milan capitalised on lax defending down the Reds’ right side to great effect, first levelling the scores then taking the lead through Ante Rebic and Brahim Diaz respectively.
But aside from that spell, Liverpool always looked the dominant side and could have been out of sight in the game’s early stages.
European nights at Anfield have become the stuff of legend. Their ability to generate a raucous atmosphere and relentless tempo from the eleven taking the field has often combined to blow teams away.
Spurred on by the vociferous crowd, Klopp’s side threatened to do just that on Wednesday. They registered 13 shots inside the first 15 minutes and would’ve been two goals to the good if Mohamed Salah had converted his penalty.
And speaking after the match, stand-in captain Davide Calabaria admitted Liverpool’s fast start and higher tempo left Milan struggling to stay in the game.
“Liverpool started really strong,” Calabria told Sky Sport Italia (via ThisIsAnfield). “You can see they are accustomed to a different tempo and are one of the best teams in the world. They have formidable players in every area.
“It was a difficult match and almost like several games in one. We didn’t feel afraid, we were just struggling to get a grip on the situation.
“We did and turned the game around. But made mistakes and should’ve been more concentrated to avoid conceding those two goals.”
Calabaria’s manager – Stefano Pioli – echoed those thoughts when referencing the Anfield atmosphere and “intensity” Liverpool exhibited.
Pioli admits Liverpool overwhelmed Milan
“Liverpool had superior quality and intensity in the first 20 to 25 minutes,” the manager added. “The regret is the two goals conceded at the beginning of the second half, but this is the level.
“In terms of intensity and quality, a game like this will make us grow a lot. The team was motivated and, in truth, we expected a strong start from the opponents. [We were] too static.
“Then the environment, the match, the quality and intensity of the opponents put us in difficulty.”