Liverpool slumped to a 3-1 defeat in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Real Madrid on Tuesday night – and Michael Owen was in agreement with Rio Ferdinand about their biggest problem right now.
It proved a disappointing evening for the Reds, who went in at the break 2-0 down following first-half strikes from Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio.
Mohamed Salah pulled one back after the interval, but with 25 minutes remaining Vinicius added his second and Real's third to give them one foot in the semi-finals.
The defeat marked a new low point in Liverpool's season, which has also seen them capitulate while defending their Premier League title.
And after the game, Owen concurred with Ferdinand's pre-game assessment about the English champions, pointing out how their shortcomings at centre-back are spreading anxiety and uncertainty throughout the whole team.
“I was disappointed with the midfield area tonight," the former Anfield hero said on BT Sport.
“We all said before the game midfield would be a crucial area. 29, 31, 35 years of age their midfield.
“Now they’re brilliant on the ball, and that’s what Spanish football is, it’s dictating the ball.
“But I just think if you can go at them, if you have the energy, like with your Henderson’s, you can get at them and that’s what’s frustrating.
“Rio made a good point right at the start, I think it starts from the back. When you’re so confident in your back two that they can go one-to-one, you can squeeze, you can do whatever you like.
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“You can flood men forward, you can push your full-backs forward again, you can do so many things but when you’re vulnerable at the back it goes down like a pack of cards.
“It’s a knock on effect it’s like a domino effect and now they’re not pressing with the same enthusiasm and the same energy.
“And this midfield that they’re playing against, yes it’s brilliant, it has been brilliant for so many years, but you can overrun them with pure energy and physique.
“I’m sure you could at Anfield, but it just doesn’t feel like that energy is in that engine room at the moment.”
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