Liverpool have been told they have no chance of winning the Champions League with Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips in defence – even if they come back from 3-1 down against Real Madrid.
The Reds were described as a ‘mess’ by talkSPORT host Jason Cundy after Madrid seized control of their quarter-final on Tuesday night.
On a night when both sides were fielding makeshift back lines, only one was exposed as a weakness as Liverpool were torn apart time after time by their hosts in the first leg.
Without first-choice defenders Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane, the Spanish giants were only really troubled when Diogo Jota’s effort fell at the feet of Salah, who grabbed an important away goal.
Liverpool’s central defensive partnership of Kabak and Phillips, on the other hand, struggled to cope on Europe’s biggest stage and were exposed on numerous occasions, leaving Jurgen Klopp’s side with a mountain to climb.
They were split by Toni Kroos’ fabulous 50-yard pass for Vinicius Jr’s opener and slow to react as the Brazilian bagged his second, after a Trent Alexander-Arnold backpass had gifted Marco Asensio a goal in between.
Liverpool have been without first-choice defenders Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip for the majority of the campaign, while makeshift defender Jordan Henderson is also injured right now.
According to Cundy, this display showed exactly why midfielders Henderson and Fabinho have been used ahead of Kabak and Phillips.
“First-half, they were all over the place, totally outclassed,” he told the Sports Bar. “I thought Real Madrid were excellent.
“Defensively, Liverpool were a mess. You can see why Klopp decided to play one of, or both, Fabinho and Henderson at the back.
“You can see why he had hesitations. We kept saying you had to get one of Fabinho or Henderson in the middle of the park, but tonight you can see why he wanted one of them in defence.
“Sorry to say, but Phillips and Kabak tonight got absolutely rinsed. Even if they get through, I can’t see how they can win the competition with those two at the back.
“Injuries have killed Liverpool, it’s an absolute fact, they’ve been decimated at the back.
“Kabak – I’ve seen games when he’s done OK. But tonight, when there’s a step up in class, they got completely outclassed at the back.”