Jurgen Klopp says he doesn’t like the way the British media has scapegoated Diogo Jota for Liverpool’s abysmal first half against Villarreal.
Every Liverpool player on the pitch in the first half was shocking – even Thiago lost his nerve and struggled to keep the ball.
The home side came flying out the blocks and fully deserved their 2-0 lead before the break as the Reds looked at risk of crashing out of the Champions League semi-final.
However, half-time came at the perfect time for the Merseysiders and Klopp was able to tweak his tactics and introduce Luis Diaz from the bench.
The Colombian took the game by the scruff of the neck and drove at Juan Foyth every opportunity he got.
It was a classic attacking European performance from the new signing but Jurgen Klopp has hit back out at suggestions that Diogo Jota was the “problem” instead saying Diaz was simply what Liverpool needed.
Klopp told the club’s official website: “He (Luis Diaz) had a massive impact. But, what I don’t like about this is, the next story is around that Diogo Jota was our problem: he was not at all our problem, we just had to mix it up.
“We had 11 problems, if you want, in the first half. We just had to mix it up, you can do that with explaining, what I did obviously, but you need then fresh input as well.
“Sadio, all of a sudden, was involved in the game, that was nothing to do with the position, it must have been a misunderstanding.
“For specific situations, I wanted Mo and Sadio high and wide, but not in open play situations.”
Liverpool have such immense attacking depth but the issue that was always going to arise at some point is how Klopp manages dropping one attacker for another after a poor performance.
It’s safe to say he’s handled it brilliantly. Jota wasn’t what Liverpool needed in the second half and Klopp’s decision vindicated it.
The Portuguese attacker is a brilliant goalscorer but in a game where ball retention was key, his best attributes were wasted.
📸 – Jota looks away on goal but the 36 year old Raul Albiol with some great defending! pic.twitter.com/wkhY5Kgujq
— 𝐀𝐅𝐂 𝐀𝐉𝐀𝐗 💎 (@TheEuropeanLad) May 3, 2022
In his 47 minutes on the field, he completed just 67% of his passes and wasn’t providing Liverpool with the out-ball they needed under pressure.
Diaz provided that perfectly with his pace and superb 1v1 ability, isolating Foyth in the channels to great effect.
The Colombian completed 90% of his passes and scored to equalise on the evening while restoring Liverpool’s two-goal lead in the tie.