Liverpool 2-0 FC Midtjylland: Winners and losers as Reds flatter to deceive despite European win

Liverpool maintained their perfect record in Europe without getting out of second gear against Danish minnows. OLIVER LAWRENSON picks out the Reds’ winners and losers from the game.

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European football returned to Anfield for the first time since March, as Klopp’s side strolled to a relatively comfortable victory on Tuesday evening. It wasn’t the greatest game of football, with 90 minutes of very few memorable moments. Fortunately for fans, Liverpool mustered up enough quality throughout the game to come away with the three points. 

After the thrashing they took off Atalanta during the last matchday, Midtjylland where seen as an easy game by many, with the team put out by Klopp further suggesting the ease in which he expected to pass the Danish side. It would prove to be a much harder evening than many would’ve thought, with Liverpool’s quality eventually shining through.


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The major downside from the game however was the injury to Fabinho. With Liverpool now down to bare bones at the back with Matip, van Dijk and Fabinho all on the treatment table, it could be a tough period with young Rhys Wiliams now expected to step up in the upcoming key features. 

Klopp made four changes from the side that defeated Sheffield United 2-1 on Saturday. Wijnaldum, Salah, Firmino and Mané all dropped to the bench for a rest with Milner, Shaqiri, Minamino and Origi getting rare opportunities to start. 

Here are my winners and losers from the game: 

Winners

Rhys Williams

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After making a handful of impressive displays during the Carabao Cup this season, the England u21 international has sprung into the first team picture. His rise has been swift but now he could be in for one of the most testing couple of weeks in his young career. With the current injury problems at centre back, the teenager will be thrust into the starting line-up after the injury to Fabinho. After his performance against the Danish side on Tuesday evening, there are plenty of positive signs. 

The 19-year-old was excellent from the minute he was introduced for the hamstrung Brazilian. Every time he had the ball, he looked the most composed player on the pitch knocking the ball about like it was another u23 game. The fact it was an important European fixture did not faze him at all, even barking out orders to Gomez and Alexander-Arnold to get back into defensive shape and cover on a couple of occasions. Klopp will have taken notice of these glimpses of leadership as major positives. 

It is a great start for the academy prospect who clearly has a bright future. However, we need to take into account that it was only against Midtjylland. He will be thrown into the lion’s den over the next couple of weeks if Matip is unable to return. With crunch fixtures against West Ham, Atalanta and Manchester City, we will really see what the young man is all about.

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Losers

Divock Origi

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The Belgian has created some memorable moments for the Reds with some of his performances embedded into the club’s history forever. Unfortunately, this season feels like it could be his last for the fan favourite whose performances have dipped significantly to a point that he is anonymous during games, slowly becoming surplus to requirements.

His display against the Danish side was really poor as he struggled to integrate himself into the game. Being the point of the attack, it was his opportunity to push his name back into the first team picture and regain some valuable confidence. Instead he may have damaged his belief even further after being hauled off just before the hour mark, after going through the game contributing nothing at all. Many fans will now understand why he has been missing in the last few matchday squads. 

This could be the beginning of the end for the forward, as it looks increasingly likely he be moved on in January or during the summer transfer window. With a fresh start brewing, hopefully he can produce a couple more trademark performances before the end that has seen him become a cult hero on Merseyside.

Takumi Minamino

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Like Origi, Minamino, starting in his preferred number 10 position, struggled and was invisible for large chunks of the game, often ball watching as the game passed him by. He lost possession an extraordinary amount of times, whilst his lack of physicality meant he was brushed off the ball with ease by Midtjylland defenders. 

His evening was summed up with the opportunities he missed. Alexander-Arnold played a couple of sumptuous deliveries towards the Japanese international during the first half, only for Minamino to miss the ball completely or fluff his lines in erratic fashion. Klopp pulled him off just before the hour to get the big names on, with the former Red Bull Salzburg man looking dejected on his way to the bench. 

It is now a pivotal moment in the career of Takumi Minamino, with his lack of impact since his arrival in January 2020 visible for all to see. It might be best for Klopp to take him out the firing line and focus on his game over the next couple of months in training. This technique has proved extremely successful in the past, with Robertson and Fabinho going through this at the start of their Reds careers. If this intervention then fails to work it will be down to the German to make an important decision on the future of 25-year-old.


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