Area of focus in Liverpool – The Defence under Klopp


Mizgan Ahmed on 2nd November, 2015

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane, London, England, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp gestures during the English Premier League soccer match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at the White Hart Lane, London, England, Saturday, Oct. 17, 2015. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)

Let us take a look at the defensive structure of Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp and how it is different from Brendan Rodgers’ one. We all know that under Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool despite having one of the best attacks in the world(in 2013-14 season) were defensively one of the failures of the world. Liverpool(under Brendan Rodgers) in 2013-14 season scored 101 goals and conceded 50. They finished second in that season just due to their attacking prowess of Suarez and Sturridge. Come the next season, Liverpool’s defensive problems kept on going and the departure of Suarez and injury to Sturridge meant they were close to nothing going forward also, Liverpool finished sixth in that season with group stage exit from Champions League and no silverware. This season started and Rodgers emphasized on defensive solutions and how to deal with it. We will not take a detailed look at defensive structure of Liverpool under Rodgers, rather we will have a look at Liverpool’s defensive foundation so far under Klopp.

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Defensive Setup: Few Points underlining it

  • Both fullbacks, Clyne and Moreno are, first and foremost defenders before they become attacking options.
  • Neither of them start in very high positions but look for overlap runs and play a flowing game from the wide positions.
  • Centre backs, Skrtel and Sakho, do not split much, rather they remain very compact, if otherwise then defensive midfielder, Lucas comes in between them.
  • Playing out of defense is not longer a necessity for Liverpool now, they have mixed it up with few direct plays also.

Centre-Backs

Looking firstly on how their possession play goes about, they either play wide to the fullbacks so that they can make that attacking run or play directly to one of forward players, Benteke’s presence helps them to play more directly.

Skrtel and Sakho now don’t play much between them, they are more keen in getting the game rolling on and in the same time trying keeping the possession. Sakho seems happy in moving few yards up and trying for a new passing lane and getting that offensive pass on.

Sakhos-Passing-Quality-2-600x314Sakho moving little further forward than his partner Skrtel in order get a more offensive pass.

Sakhos-Passing-Quality-3-600x314Sakho getting his head up and gave an offensive minded pass

Sakhos-Passing-Quality-4-600x314Lallana getting Sakho’s pass and has the space to turn and look more options

This little further movement of Sakho can sometimes be little error-prone. This stepping out of the defensive line to make an offensive minded pass or make an early challenge requires good game-reading and he needs to make sure that there is sufficient cover behind him. For now, Sakho has done this alright and whenever he tends to get caught, Lucas comes behind as a cover. Sometimes he gets caught so he needs to make sure that either Moreno or Lucas is covering his forward movement.

Skrtel is kind of guy who tends to drop deeper and be more defensive in his play, he is a perfect partner for Sakho and sometimes he can cover Sakho coming to the left side and asking Lucas or Clyne to come to that right side centre back position.

Fullbacks

As I noted earlier, fullbacks’ starting positions will be deep and they will look for overlap runs and make that attacking impact. Both Moreno’s and Clyne’s initial job is to stay compact and try to stop crosses and when given a chance stretch the oppositions with overlap runs and make good crosses. They also help in pressing and overload in transition play.

Moreno has pace which enables him to start few yards ahead of Clyne because he has the capacity to track back when required, he can come in cross field balls which helps in stretching the opposition quickly. Sakho when plays wide, plays it to Moreno for attacking play through the flanks. Clyne, on the other hand is more compact and although he offers little less going forward, he is still very good in his primary task i.e defending.

All in all, defensive structure already looks better as it was in Rodgers era. Liverpool after long time look like a team which can rely on their defense in big games and in games where they have to protect leads.

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