Liverpool fans must be shaking their heads in disbelief as this season’s rollercoaster lurches from one catastrophe to the next — seemingly with no end.
With seven losses in the first half of the season and an unfamiliar tenth spot in the EPL table, the heady heights of last year’s quadruple chase have been long forgotten as the Anfield faithful come to grips with their new reality: Has the bubble finally burst at Liverpool?
A myriad of challenges for Liverpool
Last season was always going to be difficult to top as the club faced challenges on multiple fronts. Liverpool’s owners, Fenway Sports Group (FSG), have flirted with the prospect of selling the club. This, together with their reluctance to match Manchester City’s spending power, has placed the Merseysiders in a state of flux compared to their rivals who seem to have a more structured long-term vision for their clubs.
The situation has been exacerbated by the injury curse that has plagued Klopp’s charges in recent seasons. Diogo Jota and Luis Diaz, two key cogs of their attack, have been sidelined for a significant chunk of the season, contributing to Liverpool’s toothless display in front of goal as they struggle to finish off even relegation-threatened teams.
Further injuries to Ibrahim Konate, Thiago Alcantara and defensive bedrock Virgil van Dijk mean there is little consistency in team selection — a vital factor if one considers the team’s disjointed efforts this season.
Even Klopp has come under the microscope this season as his tinkering has been questioned. His honeymoon period is well and truly over as his once genius tactics and bold attacking approach seem stale in the face of an aging squad in dire need of reinforcements and self-belief.
They are no longer the mentality monsters he once described them as when they were feared across the globe.
Instead, we have a team that succumbs to the first signs of pressure, even to the so-called minnows in the Premier League.
A season-defining game with an old foe
On Tuesday night, they face the ultimate trial by fire as eternal rivals Real Madrid bring their Galactico squad to Anfield. Often regarded as the bridesmaid against the Spanish giants, Klopp, and his charges have to somehow find some form and the attacking fluidity that made them one of the most feared teams in the world.
A small silver lining is Los Blancos themselves have had a patchy season to date but with the caliber of stars at their disposal, they are always just a game away from finding their best form.
The Liverpool faithful will hope for one of those special Anfield nights where the Kop will be their twelfth man in guiding them to a famous victory.
However, the reality is Liverpool is on the precipice, and the upcoming two-legged tie is – for better or worse – their most important games of the season.
Win and their prospects for turning around their season are distinct possibilities. Lose, however, and this could go down as one of the worst seasons in recent memory.
The stakes are high in Tuesday’s blockbuster tie – certainly not one for the faint-hearted.