Liverpool are ‘SCARED’ to squeeze, Michael Owen claims after a miserable first half against Real Madrid

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Michael Owen insists Liverpool are ‘SCARED’ to squeeze as a team after a miserable first half against Real Madrid … while Rio Ferdinand claims Reds are afraid of being caught counterattacking without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez in the defense

Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand complained about Liverpool’s horrific first-half performance against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

The Reds went into half-time 2-0 after goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio, and it was a well-deserved lead for Zinedine Zidane’s side in the first leg of the quarter-final.

After such an emphatic victory over Arsenal in the Premier League, there was hope that Liverpool would turn a corner after their sad form, but they returned to first place on Tuesday after eventually falling 3-1.

The damage was done to Liverpool in the first half when they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid

The damage was done to Liverpool in the first half when they fell to a 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid

Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio were on the score sheet for the Spanish giants on Tuesday

Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio were on the score sheet for the Spanish giants on Tuesday

Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio were on the score sheet for the Spanish giants on Tuesday

And former Liverpool forward Owen claimed the Reds have lost their aura and no longer press with the same intensity from the front – something that has become synonymous on Jurgen Klopp’s side.

Owen told me BT Sport during half time: ‘A lot of people have talked about why Liverpool is not the force they were.

When you think back to how they used to squeeze the ball, it was almost like they were going to swarm.

‘They just don’t do it now. Whether they are afraid of pushing as a team. ‘

Former Manchester United center-back Ferdinand also complained about Liverpool’s performance during the break.

Michael Owen claimed that Liverpool are now 'afraid' of pushing as a team

Michael Owen claimed that Liverpool are now 'afraid' of pushing as a team

Rio Ferdinand said Liverpool made 'mistakes everywhere' during the opening period

Rio Ferdinand said Liverpool made 'mistakes everywhere' during the opening period

Michael Owen and Rio Ferdinand beat Liverpool’s performance in the first half in Madrid

“Liverpool made mistakes everywhere, especially in defense, and they have been punished by Real Madrid,” added Ferdinand.

Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips remained together at the heart of the defense for Liverpool and Ferdinand argued that the absence of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez has made the side more cautious as they move forward.

Ferdinand argued, ‘They don’t have the two middle backs they can leave.

Ferdinand claimed the Reds are afraid of being exposed without Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk playing

Ferdinand claimed the Reds are afraid of being exposed without Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk playing

Ferdinand claimed the Reds are afraid of being exposed without Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk playing

Before they could fly on teams and not have to worry about what was behind you. They cannot do that at the moment. ‘

Liverpool withdrew an early goal in the second half via Mohamed Salah, but Madrid immediately hit back and doubled their lead again thanks to a second from Vinicius.

The Reds now have it all at home in the return game next Wednesday to keep their European hopes alive.

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