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reds revival Why the international break could have helped Liverpool's Champions League dream

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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are not thinking about the ‘fairytale’ of winning the Champions League again (Joe Giddens/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are not thinking about the ‘fairytale’ of winning the Champions League again (Joe Giddens/PA)

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists they are not thinking about the ‘fairytale’ of winning the Champions League again (Joe Giddens/PA)

When you’ve just had a defeat at club level, sometimes the last thing you want to do is go away on international duty. You want to stay and put things right at your club, correct those wrongs.

But when you have been on a bad run of form, it can do the world of good to get away from the club environment, go off with your national team and come back with a fresh vision.

You need a break from each other as a group. When you are in that rut with your club, you are seeing the same faces every day, hearing the same voices. In a sustained bad run, you have an air of negativity around the place. So when everyone is miserable like that, it’s great to get away.

That should be the case with Liverpool now as they face into a few days which could define their season – Arsenal away on Saturday and Real Madrid on Tuesday.

They have had a break, most of them were on international duty, some of them had a good week with their national teams, and they will look to build on that.

The manager also needed a break after the time he’s had, and ten days without working with the squad should clear his head as well.

On their day, Liverpool are good enough to win the Champions League, but they need to prove it and this is a big opportunity to kick-start a run into the last nine league games of the season.

They are the champions, but they need to show a reaction to what’s gone on, and a strong reaction in the Premier League can benefit them in the Champions League. They should be massively disappointed with what’s happened to them since Christmas, but this is their chance to draw a line under it and aim to get into the final of the Champions League at least. And then go on and win it.

The Arsenal game is huge for Liverpool. They need to show signs of what they can do in the final part of the Premier League season and they should look to win the game. Arsenal away can be a tough game, but Liverpool’s focus should be on keeping the pressure on the teams above them in the table.

Manchester City struggled against Leicester earlier this season, but they made a lot of errors that day, which they won’t do again when they play them this weekend. Really, it’s a case of City being a week closer to winning the league. Even when they leave players out, they’re not weakened.

For Liverpool, trying to catch Chelsea in fourth is a big ask, but they need to get into a run of form where they at least challenge for the top four. I have read interviews with Liverpool players saying they can have no excuses, that they should be in the top four. Now is their opportunity to go and show that – prove that they are a good side.

The Liverpool team of six months ago would easily take care of Arsenal, but time has moved on. Arsenal are a tricky side, very up and down, but still dangerous on their day, with enough players to cause Liverpool, or anyone, problems.

Arsenal’s issue is that they’ve not been consistent enough in making the most of those players. I always wonder if they have that steel about them, how they react if they go behind, but if Liverpool show they have been revived by that break, you’d expect them to win.

Struggle

If Arsenal is a struggle for Liverpool, that just confirms that the decline has really set in, that they have taken their foot off the gas this season and can’t get going again.

The Champions League is the only trophy Liverpool can win this season so they have to be serious about it. Real Madrid are not the side, or the club, they once were, but they always seem to find a way to win games in this competition, so it’s a tough fixture for Liverpool. In their domestic league, Real have struggled, scraping wins and draws, but they raise things in Europe when those games come around. they have that know-how in winning big games.

A first-leg win for Liverpool would give them confidence that they can overturn what’s gone on and have a strong finish to the season. If they can beat Real, they’ll believe they can go all the way and win it.

But if they drop out of the Champions League at this stage, you’d have to put this down as a pretty bad season for them. They need to be looking for silverware to fix a miserable season and the Champions League is their only way to do that.

Liverpool need to go to Madrid in a strong frame of mind, with Mo Salah concentrated and focused on Liverpool, not anything else. They need to prove what good players they are. As a squad, they have underperformed for three months. They have lacked intensity, weren’t exciting to watch.

It’s not all down to ability, it’s about personality and confidence. The next two games provide a chance to show what a Klopp team is really like.

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