Despite naming an unchanged side for the first time since taking over as Liverpool boss, Jurgen Klopp was unable to follow up the Reds swashbuckling display at Villa Park on the weekend as he watched his side putter to a scoreless draw with FC Augsburg in the Europa League.
It’s all left to play for in one weeks time when these two sides meet in the return leg on Merseyside, and though the Anfield outfit remain favourites to progress, the German side will be buoyed by the fact that they only need a win to sneak into the Round of 16 — something that wouldn’t be beyond their capacity given their hearty display at the WWK Arena.
Mainly restricted to half-chances and speculative efforts, the visitors failed to find the cutting edge that saw Aston Villa ripped to shreds on Saturday when six different players got on the score-sheet. Roberto Firmino chased down a poor pass from Markus Feulner in the opening exchanges to give Liverpool a shot at snatching a crucial away goal, but he failed to get the requisite power in his shot and it was easily saved by Augsburg ‘keeper Marwin Hitz.
Klopp’s team were given a massive boost when Raul Bobadilla, who saw two early chances go begging, limped off with a hamstring problem, but even without the Paraguay international the hosts matched their illustrious visitors chance for chance with Daniel Sturridge wasting a pair, Fuggerstädter midfielder Alexander Esswein seeing his right-footed effort well saved by Reds shot-stopper Simon Mignolet, Coutinho sidefooted wide from an Alberto Moreno cutback and former Sunderland man Ji Dong-won hit the post from range.
“We should be realistic about the result, that’s OK in a European away game. We could have scored goals but as a performance I am not satisfied,” said the Reds boss, sounding disappointed. “We fight for consistency and played like this in the game, but we always let them come back in the game and that’s not necessary. I’m not 100% happy about this game,” explained Klopp. “My problem is that, with our quality, we should have had more. I have to be patient, but I’m not a patient man, not really. My feeling is we could have done better.”
Obviously, he’s not the only one to arrive to that conclusion after the free-flowing display on Sunday, but to be fair, Markus Weinzierl’s side were everything that the Villains were not. Compact in defense, patient in the middle, quick in attack and most importantly willing to sing for their supper, the Germans showed us the kind of endeavor a side needs to navigate their way into the knock-out stages of a European competition.
With that being said, it’s hard to forget the times that we were beating the likes of Real Madrid, AC Milan, Bayer Leverkusen and Chelsea in the Champions League. Running the risk of sounding like a whiny prat, drawing with Augsburg in UEFA’s second tier competition is massively underwhelming, but at least we have someone in charge shares those sentiments. You can’t fix a problem if you don’t acknowledge that it’s there….