Let us look at Jurgen Klopp’s tactical play which he deployed when he was the manager of Borussia Dortmund and what can we expect from him now being in charge of Liverpool FC.
What is Gegenpress?
The name may confuse people but the concept behind it is very simple – you press the opposition hard after losing possession. The complexity in this move is you have to press as an organized unit. It’s a very tough mentality to have, you squeeze and harass the opposition when they are in possession which results in either ball retaining or pushing the opposition to play from back rather than going for a possible counter attack.
Klopp demands maximum intensity play and continuous pressing of the opposition which certainly takes a toll on the players. This demands a lot of physical fitness playing at full throttle for 90 minutes. However you need a very functioning team to carry out this tactic and no player should be a mere passenger.
Klopp favors a compact and narrow 4-2-3-1 formation which prefers to attack with a technical counter when the opposition is open and exposed. In defense, he prefers to play a high defensive line which forces opposition’s wingers and fullbacks to compress. He prefers to press the opposition in their own half so that less distance is covered for making a goal scoring opportunity .
When playing a game in which opposition is pressing hard, he reverts to a defensive 4-4-2 formation with 2 defensive midfield players and attackers not marking opposition’s center backs. In this formation if the possession is regained, the fullbacks have to initiate the attack as the central midfield is too compact.
To provide protection to advanced fullbacks, he prefers to play a midfield player who can run side to side and stop the opposition from counter-attacking through the flanks.
He plays with athletic and direct wingers, allowing them to cut centrally also. His two central attacking players are one behind the other, one as center forward and the other as central attacking midfielder or vice versa.
One major drawback of high pressing game is inability to play possession football which has led to dearth of goals and countless defensive errors and failure to defend while they open up.
However, Klopp’s idea of gegenpressing was a big hit in Dortmund. Let’s hope for something similar in Liverpool.