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Jurgen Klopp’s lack of trust in this key man saw his side lose their edge vs Barcelona

Trusted to make his first Premier League start at Old Trafford against Manchester United as an 18-year-old.

Trusted to start up against Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League final at just 19.

But strangely, left on the bench against Barcelona in the first leg of the Champions League semi-final on Wednesday.

Trent Alexander-Arnold, a player who is having a truly wonderful personal campaign, was forced to watch from the sidelines as Joe Gomez took his place at right-back against the Spanish champions, as Liverpool crashed to a 3-0 defeat.

It has been suggested that Jurgen Klopp wanted Gomez’s added defensive solidarity to contend with the threat of Jordi Alba. But, even then, to leave Alexander-Arnold out was an embarrassing decision.

Chelsea fans were giving it large at Anfield on Sunday. Watch their afternoon get slowly ruined in the video below…

The 20-year-old has been instrumental in the Reds’ free-flowing, fast paced attacking football this season, where his technical excellence and vision has seen him score once and assist a whopping 11 goals for his teammates.

Yes, he can be suspect defensively, but when you’re away to Barcelona inside the Camp Nou with the incentive of grabbing an away goal, why would you leave such a forward thinking player out in favour of a natural centre-back who has only just returned to full fitness.

Gomez had played just 30 minutes since returning from a broken leg suffered away to Burnley in December, all coming from the bench after the game had already been won against Porto, Cardiff and Huddersfield.

The Charlton academy graduate did not want to be adventurous against the Blaugrana on Wednesday, and in doing so, invited the dangerous Jordi Alba down his flight – ironically, if Klopp had wanted to play Gomez to deal with the Spaniard’s threat, his inclusion led to the opposite of his desired effect.

Alba actually set up Luis Suarez’s opening goal with a deliciously measured low cross, and threatened to add to his tally of assists throughout the evening as Gomez allowed him to come back for more every time, all whilst the former Valencia man knew he wouldn’t have to worry about the Englishman coming the other way.

The 21-year-old embarked on a grand total of zero dribbles, made zero key passes, and was dispossessed four times as Barcelona clearly smelt blood down his side of the pitch.

However, it would be unfair to blame him – as aforesaid, he hasn’t even played one half of football since returning to action.

Klopp well and truly threw Gomez in at the deep end.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss very rarely gets it wrong on the big occasion in terms of team selection, but that one act of tinkering in a competition that could be Liverpool’s only chance of silverware this season may cost them dearly come the end of the campaign.

It could also cost Klopp more than just trophies; Alexander-Arnold will most likely be asking himself why he wasn’t trusted to play over a rusty Gomez when he has arguably had the best season out of any right-back in Europe this term.

Damaging the belief of a key player and facing a mountain to climb in the second leg? Klopp has truly messed up.

Article title: Jurgen Klopp’s lack of trust in this key man saw his side lose their edge vs Barcelona

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