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UCL, Uefa Champions League 2021, Liverpool FC vs Real Madrid, result, score, bus attack, video, pictures

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Liverpool’s season is officially all but over as they crashed out of the Champions League after failing to overturn a 3-1 deficit during a drab 0-0 second-leg draw at home Real Madrid.

It is the latest blow in a season which promised so much after the dominance of the last two years which saw a Champions League win and a Premier League title.

However, they are now left without a single trophy this season and battling to even get back into the Champions League, currently sitting in sixth in the table and part of a six-team scramble for two positions.

But it’s also the drop-off of the players which has been alarming, with the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane in particular struggling.

After being a Ballon d’Or contender 12 months ago, Mane has only managed to score 12 goals in 41 appearances for Liverpool this season, compared to the 22 in 47 he has managed in each of the last two campaigns.

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City advance, Liverpool bow out | 01:32

“It was not the absence of noise behind the goal that cost Liverpool but their lack of poise in front of it,”Henry Winter wrote in The Times. “Jürgen Klopp is fiercely loyal to his front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, but they misfired here.

“Mané raced down the left, bringing occasional hope, but he now has only one goal in ten games. Firmino dropped off into space patrolled with tenacity and nous by Casemiro, struggled to create and has now scored only once in his past 20 games.

“This will go down as a deeply disappointing season for the outgoing champions.”

Ex-Manchester United captain Rio Ferdinand questioned whether the result was a culmination of years of relentless pressing and high-energy football.

Liverpool have had a long list of high-profile injuries this season and the ones who have managed to dodge those have look like they’re playing with lead in their boots. Perhaps it’s telling that new signing Diogo Jota looks so much more energetic than everyone else.

‘We asked the question before the game,” Ferdinand said on BT Sport. “Is it because of the heavy metal brand of football Liverpool have been playing under Klopp?

“He’s been here four years, five years… so is it sustainable, playing at that level? Is it the pandemic? Is it the injuries to key players?”

Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen agreed with his former England and United teammate, calling the lack of energy shown from the players “inexcusable”.

“I think the most common words we used in the build-up to this game were intensity and energy,’ Owen said told BT Sport. “We want to see that from Liverpool. That’s what Liverpool have based their success on, certainly under Jurgen Klopp. It’s almost inexcusable when you don’t see that.

“You can get over injuries, you can get over a lot of things, lack of form. But if you don’t see that thing that makes everything tick, that spark to start with… and it’s so simple.”

The build-up to the game was overshadowed by an incident with the Real Madrid team bus on the way to the stadium, where Liverpool fans attacked it with missiles, causing a window to smash.

Foden long bomb sends City through | 00:42

Liverpool branded the actions of their supporters as “shameful” as it evoked ugly memories of what was done to Manchester City’s bus in 2018 as Liverpool reached the Champions League final.

“I feel embarrassed,” Klopp said. “I don’t have the words. It is idiots in this situation. How can you do that? It is not a little bit funny. You give this opportunity to the people to create something wonderful but the people do not understand the rules.”

The Daily Mail’s Dominic King wrote that Klopp would take the attack as a personal one on him and it was the last thing Liverpool needed to deal with in such a troubling season.

“In a season of wall-to-wall negativity, this was the last thing Liverpool needed to be involved in. And, on that matter, do not underestimate how angry Klopp will be about it all. He is proud to be Liverpool’s manager, has embraced everything about the club’s history and tradition.

“What the deadheads are too thick to understand is that Klopp will feel this as if the object was flung directly at him. This was a night he hoped and expected to be all about football. That there is another narrative will hurt him deeply.”

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