Liverpool midfielder Thiago Alcantara proved his class by rising above the frenetic pace of the Premier League to boss the midfield in the Reds’ comfortable 3-0 win over Leeds.
Leeds started the game at 100mph in a bid to try and unsettle Liverpool at a hostile Elland Road. But it didn’t work on Thiago, who was always in control and constantly able to pick the holes in Marcelo Bielsa’s team.
It hasn’t always been an easy ride for the Spaniard since his much-hyped transfer from Bayern Munich last summer – coronavirus and a knee injury limited him to only one start before January. Even when fit, he struggled to get up to speed and Liverpool as a team didn’t hit form until March.
But this is a different Thiago, closer to the one that emerged at Barcelona and established himself as one of the best midfielders in the world during seven trophy-laden seasons in Germany.
Especially now, with Georginio Wijnaldum gone and Jordan Henderson no longer a regular starter, it is vital that Thiago has come to the fore for Liverpool – and he has.
The Leeds midfield couldn’t get near him and his class was what ultimately made the difference. Thiago was calm when the hosts weren’t and that allowed he and Liverpool to play through the manic central areas of the pitch and create chances where it mattered in the final third.
It can sometimes be the kind of performance that goes under the radar because others further up the pitch will take the plaudits – in this case the likes of Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane – but Thiago arguably deserves more praise than anyone for providing the foundation for the rest.
With the game already won, the Spaniard did also register an assist of his own of the highest quality. He took the ball down from an awkward height and so calmly laid it off to Mane to avoid the challenge of a Leeds defender, resulting in the third goal.
If this is the Thiago that Liverpool can rely on week after week, this season will be bright.