AUGSBURG 0-0 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool started their knockout stage of the Europa League with a goalless draw.
Shortly after scoring six goals in their previous fixture, you’d expect to see at least 1 goal in the next fixture, but we wouldn’t see any at all as we entered the final stages of our European campaign, where it’s “win to progress”, over two legs.
The manager had decided to go make no changes to the team that had gained their 6 goal win over Aston Villa recently and it was good to see Sturridge starting yet another game for Liverpool. He would play until the hour mark (just past it actually) in the second half.
So, it’s kind of confusing how we failed to get any goals from this. We’d done so well in our previous fixture against a Premier League side that probably is at least as good as Augsburg, though it’s hard to compare the two teams. You’d still expect us to be able to score against our opponents, but it just never happened.
Liverpool would have some chances to score in both halves, but often the defenders or the goalkeeper were on top form defensively, blocking and saving all our attempts on goal. Liverpool did not manage to make anything happen which was as special as it was in our last game. We wouldn’t get any free kicks to score. Actually, we rarely had any decisions given by the referee in our favour and to be honest, there was a noticeable “home advantage” which the referee seemed to be giving to Augsburg. They claimed most decisions, leaving the Liverpool fans screaming in frustration at the TV as they watched their opponents be awarded every last “50-50” decision that could have been given to either side but just went to straight to the home side, every time. I wouldn’t go as far as to call the referee “biased” (towards Augsburg) but he certainly wasn’t doing Liverpool any favours in this game. It was like playing against 12 men. (Augsburg’s 11 men + the 1 referee).
It’s always hard to pick a Man Of The Match when Liverpool haven’t scored but for me, I look at our defensive strong points and I’m proud that Simon Mignolet has kept a clean sheet in European competition. If we’d conceded, it would be even harder than it will be upon playing the second leg. We’re not losing, we’re currently drawing. That’s thanks to our goalkeeper. Well done, Mignolet.
For most of the game, I was sitting there expecting a moment where we could celebrate an away goal but no matter what we tried, it came to nothing and the most disturbing part of our final result was that we haven’t got any away goal advantage to take back to Liverpool. Augsburg now have an opportunity to score away goals at Anfield so we have to win that fixture, even drawing 1-1 at our home stadium could see us knocked out of the Europa League on “away goals”.
A 0-0 draw again would see us go to extra time and penalties, though. That would certainly favour Liverpool and surely see us progress to the next round of this competition but ONLY the 0-0 result will allow this to happen and it’s extremely risky to play for a goalless draw. Even a single goal in the first 90 minutes (or even extra time) by Augsburg would be very bad and we cannot let them have any goals at all. We must not concede in our final leg. If they score once, we have to score twice (to make the aggregate score Liverpool 2-1 Augsburg). If they score twice, we have to score three times (to make the aggregate score Liverpool 3-2 Augsburg). If they score three times, we have to score four times (to make the aggregate score Liverpool 4-3 Augsburg).
It gets progressively harder to do for Liverpool, if Augsburg score. As they manage to get a goal, we must manage to get more one than they have. We must always have at least a single goal lead over them in the aggregate scoreline, basically. To let them score and equalise is not enough to take Liverpool to the next round of the Europa League. We will not be able to even make it to a penalty shoot out if they score and draw with us at Anfield. 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 4-4, 5-5, 6-6, 7-7, 8-8, 9-9 etc – all these drawing results will see Augsburg claim an away goals advantage to make it to the next round of the Europa League. This is the danger we face after not claiming any away goals for ourselves in the first leg, more dangerous than losing will be conceding and drawing. The importance of our victory is simply too great to allow this to happen. It would be a cruel way to get kicked out of the competition, even after you did not “lose” (you drew). Everyone involved with Liverpool deserve better than that.
Liverpool’s history of success in European competition and reputation that comes with it is at stake, here. We cannot afford to jeopardise it. We know what it takes to make it to the European Cup Finals (both Champions League and UEFA Cup). Gerrard Houllier was instrumental in our success in the UEFA Cup of 2001, the same can be said of Rafa Benitez for the 2005 Champions League and it’s true that the right manager can make this happen, just as much as the players that are playing on the pitch. I have confidence in Klopp to be just as successful, though it will be hard work (being successful in Europe isn’t ever easy).
This trophy means a lot to the club and a lot to the fans and it’s important we progress in this competition. It’s more than “silverware” to show off in a cabinet, it’s a shiny glimmering beacon of HOPE for everyone! A way of proving that our new manager is taking us to places that our previous manager had never gone. Even being in a Cup Final is more than Rodgers had achieved during his management but actually to have won more than zero trophies (Rodgers shameful record) will show that he was never the right man for the job and that Klopp is definitely the right man for the job, with no doubt about it. Winning it would emphatically prove this once and for all. BUT, to win a trophy you must make your way to final and we simply can’t do that unless we make the aggregate scoreline turn in our favour after neither team managed to take a lead in the 1st leg.
Klopp said after the game “I am not 100% happy” and he was mostly referring to the fact that we hadn’t scored, even if we didn’t lose. He’s a positive guy generally, but he knows when we could have done better and will surely attempt to rectify this at Anfield when next we meet Augsburg. Liverpool will improve their performances and have the home crowd behind them all the way, as they play again on 25th February.
So, we wait for the next leg to arrive and walk on with hope in our hearts. You’ll Never Walk Alone, Anfield Family.
[written by] Stuart Drewery.
I’m an Englishman (born and raised in Liverpool in the 80s). My whole family including my parents and grandparents were Liverpool fans so I was born into being a red.
I’ve seen Liverpool win the league (about 25 years ago) and I’ve been 100% loyal and committed while supporting the Reds through all the good times AND the bad times since the 80s.