Before the game all the talk was about team selection, rumours on the internet were confirmed when the team was announced with Gerrard, Balotelli, Johnson, Henderson, Lovren, Coutinho and Sterling all dropped from the starting eleven. If all these players were rested for a game of this magnitude ahead of the Chelsea game in the league on Saturday it looked like Rodgers had given up against Madrid and totally disrespected the supporters who had travelled, at great expense, to support the team. It was also a big risk if we were to go down heavily in Madrid and still didn't get a good result at the weekend you could see Rodgers coming under pressure form the owners, the support as well as from the players. I don't think its acceptable for a Liverpool manager to concede defeat before a game, ever, under any circumstances, but Rodgers claimed in an interview before the game that this is not what he had done he "fielded a strong team" full of internationals that was capable of getting a result, a big risk from Rodgers especially as one or two are starting to question him.
We lost the game 1-0 to a Benzema goal following a cross from the impressive Marcelo and Madrid deserved to win, they put us under pressure for periods of the game and forced a couple of decent saves out of Mignolet, who had a good game. But Madrid are the best team in the world at the minute and there was no shame for Liverpool in this result with many of the replacement players doing very, very well.
Manquillo came in at right back and was very good, put under pressure all game by Isco and Marcello he more than held his own and found time to join Liverpool attacks giving an outlet on the right hand side an impressive performance. Toure was the other defender who came in and to be honest showed how bad Lovren is a solid, strong performance against the most dangerous forward line in the world.
In midfield Lucas did what he normally does, win tackles and break up play and pass the ball safely but Can was exceptional he covered lots of ground got in the faces of Madrid and passed the ball very well also making several aggressive forward runs with the ball I was very impressed, Markovic was another who came in to the team and I thought he also had a good game running with the ball well and helping out in the right back area when needed, he couldn't create anything but still looked bright.
In the striker role Borini ran himself to a stand still for the team, he also couldn't create anything but his performance was a positive as was that of the whole team. This was a good performance and Rodgers has got some selection headaches ahead of the game at the weekend.
The team played very well, we played with high energy and tempo for the whole game, we pressurised Madrid well and they didn't like it and when we got the ball we passed it well showing good composure on the ball, we did get forward especially for periods in the second half and we did force Madrid in to defending well. Varane and Ramos at the heart of the Madrid defence were excellent, if the Madrid defence was as weak as we were told before the game we would have got a result, but it wasn't true at times they were imperious and kept Liverpool at mostly arms length.
We lost the game yes, but this was a huge improvement from the performance levels we have been seeing recently, really huge. All of the players who came in to the team impressed, they have given Rodgers a big problem ahead of the weekend, one of those good problems, the reason we bought all those players, the reason we improved our squad and this is the first time he has genuinely had this kind of problem, its a good problem to have but it still needs solving. If he gets it right this could be the turning point in our season we are looking for and his big gamble payed off if he doesn't and we struggle to qualify from the group of the Champions League and our league form doesn't improve Rodgers will have questions to answer.
In Madrid the supporters also hit top form, despite the changes to the team they could be heard loud and proud before during and after the game, this is the type of support the team needs, we don't always agree with the team selection, the team doesn't always play well and we can't win every game but we must support the team and manager.
Well done everybody in Madrid, we lost but its perhaps the most positive i have felt after a defeat ever, so lets keep that level of performance both on and off the field and take our team forward