Liverpool lost their first away game upon their return to the Champions League after five years as Switzerland outfit FC Basel gave the Reds a 1-0 beating.
Liverpool have failed to show any sort of flair or color in the last one month or so. The last game they dominated and won was the season’s third EPL game against Spurs. After that, the Merseyside team has always looked below par, and nothing that gives suggestion that they want to finish in the top 4, or came very close to winning the title last time out.
A strike by Marco Streller in 52 minutes was enough to hand the hosts a win. Basel have won against Chelsea, Manchester United, Spurs and Bayern Munich at home in the past few seasons so it was not as if Liverpool lost to a completely unknown side. However, taking back a point would have put them in a better position in the group. Liverpool can still progress, but the lacklustre display needs to be changed soon.
“I don’t think we’re anywhere near technically where we were at last year. I’m hoping with the return of the players coming back from injury that we will become better. It’s important that we get back to playing as a team. We need to ensure we get back to that,” Rodgers admitted
“It’s frustrating at times.”
Brendan Rodgers acknowledged that work needs to be done, as once again his side conceded from a set piece.
“I have replicated that in the changing room,” Rodgers reflected at his post-match press conference.
“The goal we conceded was far too soft – and it’s not the first one. It was a very disappointing goal to concede after all the work, all the talking and all the training ground work that we do on them.
“We never got going in the first 25 minutes; we gave it away too easily and didn’t have the passing combinations. Then we grew into the game and were probably the better side. We started to distribute the ball better and create some chances.
“We started the second half well and went close on a couple of occasions. Then we conceded a soft goal and it’s difficult away from home. This is a club that has had a great record against English teams. But tonight was an opportunity for us to at the very least get a point from the game.”
In the continued absence of Daniel Sturridge, something that is hurting Liverpool dearly, summer signing Mario Balotelli again spearheaded the attack, and failed to make an impact with goal. Rodgers however was pleased with his work-rate and felt that the Italian will score as long as he keeps working hard.
“I think he worked hard. It’s obviously his job to create and score goals, and he’s working,” began the boss, asked for an assessment of the Italian’s display.
“He went close with a free-kick where he had a great shot. He knows his job is to create and score goals, and he’s working hard to get into the areas. That’s what we’re asking of him.”
Rodgers insisted that Liverpool’s target of progression to the tournament’s knockout stages will not be altered by the result in Basel and explained why his side needs to have a positive mindset before they take on Real Madrid twice in the next four weeks.
“It was always going to be a group that would probably go right to the end – certainly for the second position. We’re under no illusion that the next couple of games are tough games. But our objective is still to qualify, get through and into the knockout stages. That’s still the focus for us.
“It was a disappointing result for us tonight, but our next game will be a great occasion for us at Anfield. We’re really looking forward to that now because in this competition in particular your home games are very important.
“No matter who it is, we will go into the game with a positive mindset. Hopefully at the end of the group stage, we’ll qualify – because that’s our aim.”