We were only 60 seconds away from a decent 0-0 draw at El Madrigal last night, before heart break struck and Villarreal grabbed a late winner to take to Anfield next week. If the players had just managed to hang on a bit longer, Klopp would have been able to contend much different questions.
But leaving your best striker and, without doubt, most dangerous player on the bench was always likely to raise questions. The result turning out to be a defeat meant all questions he fielded were inevitably going to be about why Sturridge didn’t start and, perhaps even more so, why he remained on the bench throughout.
But Jurgen has gone some way to explaining the reason he felt it was necessary to leave the striker on the bench. Speaking after the game (via the Daily Mirror), he said: “Yeah, very difficult decision.
“I thought about a lot of things, but in the end I decided for a little bit more stability.
“In the 4-3-3 we didn’t play with Daniel until now, and so we thought for today this 4-3-3, 4-5-1, sometimes a diamond this very flexibile style, we played in a few games before.
“It makes sense that the players played it together before, that’s why we decided for this line-up.”
On the face of it, that’s all the reason Klopp really needs but there will be those that will question the decision, particularly in the English media.
Obviously, many Reds were desperate for Sturridge to come off the bench late on, especially with an away goal as likely as a goal for Villarreal but it can’t be said that the 26 year old’s omission was the sole reason for defeat last night.
With the Reds at Anfield for the second leg, and needing a win to at least give the team a chance reaching the final, it’s a practical certainty that the striker will start, with goals being required. The game on Sunday is also likely to see Sturridge make some sort of appearance and could be a great warm up opportunity for the player.