Jurgen Klopp has explained why he started with Roberto Firmino and did not use Daniel Sturridge at all on Thursday.
Liverpool lost 1-0 to Villarreal in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final, with the Reds failing to score despite having 14 shots on goal.
Firmino started the game in Spain, and played 89 minutes before being removed for the introduction of the returning Christian Benteke.
Despite scoring three goals in each of his last three games, Daniel Sturridge remained on the bench throughout. Matt Stead feels Klopp’s three decisions over his forwards represent mistakes.
Speaking ahead of the game, Klopp explained why he favoured Firmino over Sturridge.
“It was a very difficult decision. I thought about a lot of things, but in the end I decided for a little bit more stability.
“In the 4-3-3 we didn’t play with Daniel until now, and so we thought for today this 4-3-3, 4-5-1, sometimes a diamond this very flexibile style, we played in a few games before.
“It makes sense that the players played it together before, that’s why we decided for this line-up.”
Firmino had one shot, and the only outfield Liverpool starter who had fewer touches was Philippe Coutinho, who was removed at half-time.
The forward was substituted in the 89th minute for Benteke, who was returning from injury and has scored one goal in 2016, and the Reds conceded just minutes later.
Explaining the substitution, Klopp said: “There were one or two situations with set pieces defensively that Christian could help us with. It was not really for attacking.
“We had no luck. I was really, really disappointed when I came in the dressing room and everyone told me Lallana was not offside. In big games you need right decisions but it is like it is.”