For all the talk of the ‘weakened XI’ Brendan Rodgers put out away at Real Madrid, Liverpool weren’t as hopeless as was widely expected. It’s quite disrespectful to refer to the team the Northern Irishman put out as a ‘reserve’ outfit, with many of the players on show having been senior internationals with bags of club experience under their collective belts.
Real were never really under any threat at the Bernabeu, but that’s not to say that some of the fresh faces in the Reds’ XI failed to impress. In fact a number of the fringe players involved outshone some of the ‘every day’ alternatives, so it would be no surprise if at least one keeps his place for the much talked about Chelsea game.
We here at FFC Towers really think there’s a chance of just that, and here are FIVE who may have earned a second chance…
His pace may have gone and he may now be the punch line in a joke waiting to happen when he plays, but Toure was actually, arguably, the Reds’ best player at the Bernabeu. The commanding Ivorian had Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema locked away in his pocket – albeit the latter did score the only goal of the game – for much of the 90 minutes, and looked assured and calm alongside the often erratic Martin Skrtel. With Liverpool’s defensive weaknesses all too clear this season, a player of Toure’s experience – he’s won the Premier League with Arsenal and Manchester City – could be vital in tightening up and securing some of the leaks. Any worse than Dejan Lovren, on current form? Nope!
Despite impressing in the Capital One Cup win against Swansea, Borini was placed back on the bench for the shambolic showing at Newcastle last weekend. Mario Balotelli’s continuing woes may have contributed to the former Sunderland loanee’s re-call for the Madrid clash, and it’s fair to say that he showed more effort in the Spanish capital than ‘Super Mario’ has all season.
He may lack the physicality to lead the line alone, but he could be a threat from a wider position or in a front two alongside the aforementioned Balotelli.
Steven Gerrard’s ‘shielding of the backline’ has been criticised of late, so re-calling a specialist midfield enforcer to take on the role makes sense, right? Lucas got a rare chance in Madrid, and his quiet, yet effective, sweeping behind his attack-minded team-mates was key in preventing the likes of James Rodriguez from running the show.
The Brazilian may not have the legs he once possessed, but he cannot have gone from one of Liverpool’s key men to ‘deadwood’ in just over a two seasons…
It’s likely to be Lucas or Can if Rodgers opts to pick one of his ‘reserve’ midfielders for the Chelsea game. While the Brazilian impressed, Can looks to be a real presence in the middle of the park, with his bulky frame and driving energy key traits.
The German youth star was signed over the summer but has struggled with injuries, so it would be no surprise if, now he’s fit, Rodgers starts handing the enforcer more chances.
Manquillo has played more minutes in the Reds’ first XI this season than he may have expected upon his loan arrival from Atletico Madrid, and that could continue after he impressed once again in his homeland. The Spaniard may not be as useful in the final third as Glen Johnson, but he appears more switched on at the back and shows much greater desire to cut out crosses.
Against Chelsea he could be facing Eden Hazard, who will be a constant attacking threat!