Red Star Belgrade stunned Liverpool in the Champions Leauge group stages yesterday, and now, Liverpool has just made it a lot tougher on themselves to qualify for the knockout rounds. Two goals from Red Star’s Milan Pavkov secured the victory in which is a historic night for the Serbian Club. Liverpool won this fixture earlier in group play at Anfield 4-0. But this time, Liverpool had to travel to play the Champions of Serbia in an absolutely terrifying environment. Rajko Mitić stadium, a 55,000 seat stadium holds in all the hisses and whistles coming from the home crowd and creates an absolute hell pit for visiting teams. Red Star’s fans are known for being aggressive and their stadium is notorious for being able to suck the spirit out of traveling teams.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were sluggish from the very first whistle. Struggling is an understatement when you describe Liverpool’s efforts to maintain possession. The German manager made a couple of head-scratching line-up decisions as well. Klopp left Xherdan Shaqiri back in England, who has been in brilliant form as of late. Joel Matip for whatever reason got the nod, Adam Lallana who had the chance to prove his roster spot, it’s safe to say that he did not do that. I could’ve easily named this article “how the hell is Adam Lallana still on Liverpool.” The final switch was Daniel Sturridge who has been used as a super sub as of late but wasn’t too super against Red Star. Sturridge, who had a dream opportunity in the six-yard box to take the lead in the first twenty minutes, but fluffed his lines terribly.
Liverpool’s first-half performance was easily tied with the performance vs Napoli as the worst of the season. Liverpool in the second half was much better. They dominated possession and hit the woodwork three times. Liverpool just could not break down Red Star’s feisty defense. As much as you can point fingers at Liverpool’s players, and the questionable decisions Klopp made, Red Star earned this win. Milan Pavkov, who is actually a part-time electrician and a clerk at his father’s grocery store, took advantage of an unmarked header from a Red Star corner. Then Pavkov hit an absolute rocket from about 25 yards out whizzing right past Alisson. Red Star Belgrade played like they had something to prove when it came to defending against a relentless Liverpool attack. Especially in the second half.
It is not a time for yee to abandon all hope, however. Liverpool at the moment sits tied at the top of the group next to Napoli, both clubs with six points. Liverpool’s next games in the Champions League are away against PSG, and home against Napoli. Liverpool can not afford another slip-up if they want to steal a spot in the knockout stages of this competition. Liverpool has a lot of work to do, but a home fixture against bottom feeders, Fulham in the Prem’ could be a good match to get some confidence back in the club.