Liverpool’s German manager faced German manager faced an opposing team from his home country for the first time since his departure from Dortmund. Liverpool wanting to keep the momentum on their side, went with the same squad as seen over the weekend against Aston Villa in which they ruthlessly destroyed the 6-0. Augsburg attack was being led by Paraguay international Raul Bobadilla who had been the joint top scorer along with Arturo Artiz of Athletic Bilbao with 6 goals. (Artiz now leads with 7 goals).
Augsburg took advantage of the home support at the WWK arena and started the game brightly. Bobadilla had a first glimpse of the Liverpool goal in the 3rd minute and shoots wide of the post. Liverpool had already made some careless mistakes in the early stages of the game and Augsburg took full advantage of this. However, Firmino missed a glorious opportunity to score with a one on one opportunity against the Augsburg goalie Marcel Hitz. Liverpool finally took some control of the game after 10 minutes and looked more poised after Firminho’s breakaway on goal. Both sides had good spells with ball possession but Liverpool looked more confident. The game however was not being played with the fluidity which Liverpool showcased against Villa and Augsburg’s strategy to hit Liverpool on the counter-attack was failing. Bobbadilla’s night was cut short as he was replaced in the 23rd minute by Cauiby due to a hamstring strain. Just two minutes later, Turkish midfielder’s attempt on goal was saved well by Liverpool custodian Simon Mignolet.
Substitute Cauiby looked dangerous during set pieces and challenged the Liverpool defence by rising for every header that came his way. Augsburg upped the tempo by the half-hour mark and were gathering some kind of momentum. This momentum could have very well translated into a goal after U-21 German midfielder failed to capitalise on Emre Can’s careless back heel in his own half and fired his shot wide of the goal. Augsburg finished the first 45 minutes on a high after pushing the Liverpool defence further into their own half and forcing a point-blank save from goalie Mignolet through winger Esswein. Liverpool however held on and Augsburg were showing that they were not going to be a pushover team.
Liverpool started the second half well and were looking to make inroads into the Augsburg defence. Sturridge however, missed a glorious opportunity to secure an away goal for the Kopites and puts the ball on the wrong side of the post after some beautiful play by Milner and Firmino. The game even though was being dominated by Liverpool in terms of possession, they were not taking full advantage of their opportunities to score. The match never really kicked off or went into full momentum as was expected at least from Liverpool after their most recent outing in the Premier League against Aston Villa. Augsburg would be the happier side as they avoided conceding an away goal even though this was the first European game this season in which they didn’t score. Liverpool however, would want to correct upon this missed opportunity and would want to take utmost advantage of the home leg of this fixture next week.
Liverpool need to find the consistency if they want to qualify in the top four of the Premier League and their performance in this game shows that that is one area which manager Klopp might want to seriously look into. Augsburg, a German squad in 14th place in the Bundesliga cold off Liverpool without much effort and that says something. Whilst the quality exists with the Liverpool squad, the end product is definitely missing.