Jurgen Klopp admits Naby Keita substitution was ‘tactical’ in Real Madrid defeat

Naby Keita was well below-par in the first half (Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images)

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp admitted Naby Keita was not injured and was substituted in the 41st minute in a 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid for ‘tactical’ reasons.

Goals from Vinicius and Marco Asensio gave Madrid a 2-0 lead at half-time in the Spanish capital but Klopp didn’t wait until the break to make changes.

Keita was given a surprise start in the Spanish capital, with Klopp opting to bench Thiago Alcantara in favour for the more mobile Guinea international.

However, Klopp subbed Thiago on in Keita’s place before the break and the 26-year-old looked far from pleased as he made his way to the bench.

Keita’s struggled with injuries since joining the Reds and it was suggested that the midfielder has sustained a new issue that forced Klopp to take him off.

But the German has admitted the sub was purely tactical.

Keita was taken off in the first half (Photo by Oscar J. Barroso / Europa Press Sports via Getty Images)

‘Naby was not responsible for the performance in the first half,’ said Klopp.

‘He was not good in the game, but I could have made a few more changes in that moment. Yes, it was tactical.

‘I did it, and now I’m not happy about it because we talk as if it was Naby’s fault.’

Thiago’s introduction momentarily improved Liverpool, with Mohamed Salah halving the deficit before the hour.

The Egyptian’s strike gave Liverpool a vital away goal heading into the second leg at Anfield but poor handling from Alisson saw Vinicius grab his second of the game to give Madrid a huge advantage.

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