Between The Lines: Has Klopp realised that he must not tinker with his team in Europe?

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has insisted to reporters that his team must not repeat the performance that led to their 2-0 loss against Red Star Belgrade in the Champions League on Tuesday night.

What did he say?

The German coach tried to pick apart what went wrong for the Merseyside outfit after the final whistle of their clash in Serbia.

The Merseyside outfit were favourites to extend their position at the top of Group C having already earned a 4-0 victory over Red Star at Anfield two weeks prior.

However, a below par performance resulted in the Serbian side scoring twice in the first half – both goals from Milan Pavkov – which was enough to take all three points.

Overall, Liverpool were sloppy, lacklustre and suffered lapses in judgement, particularly in the defence.

The Reds have now lost three away games in Europa on the bounce for the first time in their history and when asked about the concerning statistic, Klopp alluded to the changes in personnel that he made.

The manager switched out four players from the previous clash against Red Star, bringing in Joel Matip, James Milner, Adam Lallana and Daniel Sturridge.

Xherdan Shaqiri was left at home, while Joe Gomez, Fabinho and Roberto Firmino were named on the bench.

While speaking to reporters after the match, Klopp said:

“It made sense to make a few changes, a few we had to make and a few we wanted to. In the end, it’s easy to say it didn’t work out. Of course, we need to make sure it will not happen again otherwise it will be difficult because the next game is already an away game again and the last one is a very difficult home game against Napoli.”

Liverpool players and manager Jurgen Klopp look dejected following defeat to Red Star Belgrade

Has he learnt a lesson?

Klopp has not directly blamed his team selection for the result, but claiming that it must not be allowed to “happen again” could be interpreted in a way to suggest that he cannot afford to field a so-called weaker team.

Perhaps the outcome of the fixture would have been different had Sturridge not missed an open goal when the clash was goalless.

However, the striker struggled to impose any sort of threat and, as a result, was hauled off at half-time.

Out of the fringe players who started, only Joel Matip in the centre of defence alongside Virgil van Dijk survived the entire 90 minutes.

Adam Lallana cut a frustrated figure in midfield as he struggled to find some creativity and he was eventually replaced in the 79th minute.

Liverpool have strength in depth this season, but the midweek result should be a warning to Klopp that he needs to field his best side as often as possible.

In fairness to the German, both Naby Keita and Jordan Henderson are recovering from injuries, but with crucial ties against Paris Saint-Germain and Napoli coming up, players should not be rested and the Reds skipper may find his absence has actually helped ensure he becomes a regular on his return.

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