The nervous-looking Dortmund scouts perched in front of the press scribbled furiously through this entertaining game.
Yet they could have condensed their copious notes to just two comments. Liverpool have got a goals menace in them...and but still have a dracula-style fear of crosses!
On that basis – and on the evidence of this demolition of Stoke - Thursday’s season-defining Europa League showdown should be a spectacular, emotional ride.
If Jurgen Klopp has done one thing above all else since his arrival, it is to infuse his Reds attack with a latent threat whenever they go forward...no matter who he seems to select.
Hence the compelling sight of Daniel Sturridge combining eloquently with Roberto Firmino and promising youngster Sheyi Ojo in the first half, and then Divock Origi doing exactly the same with Adam Lallana after the break.
It brought a third goal in five starts for the under-appreciated Sturridge – who for all his detractors still has a touch of class – and a fine double for Origi, who is on the verge of announcing himself as a very special talent.
Indeed, despite an entertaining first half what happened from there seemed to explode from nowhere, prompting many to ask what happened? Well, Origi happened.
As Klopp said afterwards, the 20-year-old Belgian has stepped up a level, by building himself up in the gym, and proving an intimidating physical presence even Stoke couldn’t handle.
“He learnt everything from me!” the manager joked. “His development is because of his potential, and you see what confidence can do.
“He’s still a really young player. His last injury he used it to add a little bit of body strength and now everybody can see he needs a new kit!
“I’m not sure it’s five kilo of muscle, it may be more, but he had added it. He is in a good way, he sees it similar to us - he is on the way.”
No wonder the Dortmund scouts looked a touch wide-eyed as they left early, given their own team looked less than defensively accomplished in the Westfalenstadion last Thursday. With Klopp making seven changes here, if this was supposed to be Liverpool ressies, then their first must be some side.
The reality of course, is pitched below that. The Anfield team now have the beating of any side, as Stoke found to their devastated cost here, and even their impressive German opponents will surely feel.
Yet they also have a weakness at the back that Klopp clearly feels he can’t truly address until the cavalry arrives next season. Here, he rested Sakho and Lovren, but their replacements in Kolo Toure and Martin Skrtel struggled at set pieces.
It led to a fine, open contest, that perhaps flattered the home side just a touch. They led through the rare sight of an Alberto Moreno goal, as the defender slammed one in after quick thinking from fine leader James Milner, for his first in 65 matches.
Stoke though, worked out Peter Crouch up front meant set pieces were always a threat, and they worked several around the box, all causing danger and eventually delivering a goal when little Bojan of all people escaped to plant a free header home.
The visitors had chances to lead from more set pieces, with Shawcross flashing a header wide and Crouch denied a goal by an offside flag, but it was the brilliance of young Ojo on his first Premier League start that turned the game when he supplied Sturridge at the far post.
An admiring Klopp couldn’t contain himself. “Usually you ask me about Sturridge, but I want to speak about him this time,” he said with a smile.
“He worked really hard, he wanted the ball always, and always really smart defending. He must close space smartly, and he did that brilliantly.”
If that seemed to suggest the England striker may be playing his way into the side for Thursday, then Origi had other ideas. He replaced Ojo at the interval, and took Stoke apart almost immediately.
First he ghosted onto Milner’s great delivery to steer home unmarked at the far post, and then he took the ball on the left, bulldozed past Phil Bardsley and cut inside to deliver a fine curling finish.
With these options, and the finesse of Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana to fit in, Liverpool have an embarrassment of riches to face Dortmund, and for all their Dracula style fear of crosses, they know their goal threat gives them the beating of the Germans.
For Stoke, Mark Hughes put it succinctly. “Unfortunately for us the story of the game was we were unable to stop the ball coming into the box, and when it did we were unable to defend it properly.”
Source: Daily Mirror
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