All is not lost after Liverpool's Champions League exit

Despite exiting the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid, Liverpool should look at the rest of the season with optimism.
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Liverpool’s exit from the Champions League at the hands of Real Madrid was another disappointment in a season where they’ve been all to frequent.

The 0-0 draw at Anfield was far from a drab affair, with the Reds carving out a number of chances.

If they had brought their shooting boots, Liverpool would most likely have found themselves anticipating another semi-final with Chelsea standing in the way of a potential Istanbul final.

But it wasn’t to be as chances went begging and Liverpool failed to make their dominance over Madrid count.

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While the outcome of the game and the tie as a whole was disappointing, it doesn’t feel all too negative as we reflect on the second leg.

While there were still areas in which they were lacking, Liverpool did play rather well with a number of good individual displays.

Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Nathaniel Phillips were arguably the stand out performers on the night during a rather stellar, solid display.

As a whole, the team created chances, pressed Real Madrid well, afforded them few chances but were ultimately undone by only their inaccurate shooting.

It was a performance worthy of winning any game and was a welcome relief from some of the more drab performances we’ve seen in recent months.

The intensity was back, the high press was effective and there was a real zip about the play.

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True, this was stunted when Jurgen Klopp made a few changes which affected the rhythm of the game.

But it was encouraging from the Reds, and even though chances weren’t taken, they were being created.

Much has been said and written about the form of Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané this season, with only a handful of goals and assists between them this year.

That’s an entire issue in itself, and maybe it was a mistake in not starting Diogo Jota who has been Liverpool’s most potent attacker of late.

But perhaps more importantly, people have rightly said that this performance can be a springboard for the team for the rest of the season.

Seven Premier League games remain in a favourable run in as Klopp hunts for a vital place in this season’s top four.

Manchester United is without doubt the most difficult fixture left on paper, but tough games against Leeds, Southampton, Burnley and Crystal Palace will require good performances.

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Last week saw Leeds give a below-par Manchester City a stark reminder that you can never take your foot off the gas in this league.

Marcelo Bielsa’s 10-men came away from the Etihad with a 1-2 win and will be in good spirits for Liverpool’s visit.

Even fixtures against West Brom and Newcastle will be difficult given both sides are fighting for Premier League survival.

Klopp will be demanding that his players maintain this level of intensity as you would think that that would be more than enough to grab three points in most of these fixtures.

With the possibility of missing out on next season’s Champions League, this performance level needs to be a prerequisite.

And Liverpool shouldn’t come away from this Real Madrid game feeling deflated, but energised – perhaps even vengeful at proving that they are in fact a potent attacking force.

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They will want to put the marker down for those around them also in the hunt for Champions League football that Liverpool are not going anywhere.

I for one actually feel quite positive going forward after this performance and the grit shown to come back from behind and win against Villa last week.

It’s not a time to be licking our wounds. Pick yourselves up, dust yourselves off and prove that we will come back stronger once this cursed season is out of the way.