“One of the first names on the teamsheet” – Jamie Carragher showers praise on Liverpool star after win over Villarreal

Liverpool legend Jamie Carragher has heaped praise on Reds midfielder Thiago Alcantara for his performance against Villarreal in the UEFA Champions League semi-final.

The midfielder ran the proceedings in the first leg of the tie at Anfield on Wednesday, April 27, as his side won 2-0. He also received the ‘Player of the Match’ award on the night.

Thiago has been brilliant for Liverpool in the past three matches against Manchester United, Everton, and Villarreal.

The Spaniard came under criticism after joining the Merseysiders from Bayern Munich in 2020 as he took time to settle down. Injury issues didn’t help him either. However, he has shone through this season, especially in the last few weeks.

Highlighting this, Carragher said on CBS Sports (via HITC):

“He’s been brilliant, he really has. In these last three or four months, he has been one of the first names on the teamsheet. There was a lot of criticism when he came in because he wasn’t like the other midfield players and would Liverpool lose something?”

He added:

“But the reason they brought him in is that he can provide something different. There was always that debate last season ‘has he fitted in?’ Last season was a write off for Liverpool because of the injuries, also for Thiago as well. I think during the last three or four months, not just one of the best Liverpool players. He has possibly been one of the best players in the Premier League. He has made a huge difference to Liverpool.”

Thiago had a passing accuracy of 96% (99/103) against Villarreal and completed all nine of his attempted long balls. He even hit the post once.

Liverpool’s midfield has been brilliant this season

The attacking prowess of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota, Luis Diaz, and Roberto Firmino often earns plaudits, and rightly so. However, midfield has been an area of massive influence for Jurgen Klopp’s side this season.

Thiago, Fabinho, Naby Keita, and Jordan Henderson have often stepped up to deliver the goods. While Fabinho breaks up the opposition’s play brilliantly, Thiago provides a great level of control.

Thiago and especially Fabinho were absolutely sensational in midfield tonight. Just breathtaking quality. Hard to think of a better Liverpool team in my lifetime. And I’m old.

Henderson and Keita, meanwhile, distribute play and initiate attacks for the frontmen to then do their magic. The addition of James Milner, Harvey Elliott, and Curtis Jones provides depth to their squad as well.

It has overall been a perfect team performance from the Merseysiders this season. Hence, it is no surprise that they are aiming to secure an unprecedented quadruple.

The Reds have already won the Carabao Cup and will face Chelsea in the FA Cup final on May 14. They now have a two-goal advantage in their Champions League semi-final tie. They are also just one point behind leaders Manchester City in the Premier League table.

Edited by Rachel Syiemlieh

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