Liverpool were held to a goalless, odourless draw at Augsburg as pedestrian movements from certain players worried many Reds’ well-wishers.
Jurgen Klopp went with an unchanged lineup that started against Villa in the weekend, with Sturridge starting two games in a week being the most happening thing.
It was again a 4-2-3-1 shape with Henderson and Can controlling the midfield; Firmino behind Sturridge as false 9; Coutinho and Milner occupying wide positions tucking inside whenever possible to allow overlaps for fullbacks.
Let’s take a look at the shape, analyse few points and draw your attention as to how slow movements and transitions in the midfield can suck the momentum of a team going forward in various situations :-
The back four were tested on more than few occasions but in response they overall looked solid in terms of holding shape and clearing lines, Mignolet had one or two heart-catching moments but overall a tidy performance from the always under-pressure back-line. Clyne and Moreno again had joy moving forward from flanks, the main reason being the tucking in of Milner and Coutinho on more than few occasions, their final delivery should be more good in order to capitalise those good moments.
Coutinho and Milner were good in their roles, Milner produced some good deliveries from the right flank, he and Firmino linked up well on few occasions, playing one touch and freeing either of the two with a yard of space, his defensive duties can be a cause of concern at times, there were two occasions when the opposition fullback just ran in behind the Englishman inside the penalty area without being even seen, he was just ball-watching rather than man, so tiding up these things should be a main concern for an experienced player like him. Coutinho started wider but as game went on, tucked himself in, the main reason being Firmino going more towards the right side with Milner, he allowed Moreno to run overlaps and tried to pick out pocket of space when required, in overall terms Brazilian had a quite night in Augsburg, maybe coming back from injury is the main reason behind this rustiness.
Sturridge was again good in his primary movements in and around the box, he got few chances in the box which were hard to finish off, but positive signs were there that better things are still to come from the striker once he get attuned to match fitness. His floating movements make him a difficult customer to mark, he peels towards the flanks few times allowing runners to run in the box.
Now, as I said earlier, let’s take a look at Liverpool’s midfield and analyse how a slow transitioned midfield can bore a team down :-
Now as we see the image above, we can realise few things quite clearly, let me explain those in simpler terms, not just in the last game but in many previous games we have been witnessing a slow, pedestrian midfield functioning of the Reds’. The main reason behind it is the ball spreading of the players like Can and especially Henderson, they get the ball in good areas and with good space few times but when they are spreading the ball in the flanks, they fail to meet the expectation of forward moving player on more than few occasions, just an instance, Henderson has the ball, he has options towards his left, right and also forward moving player Milner on the flank, ok he spotted Milner but the pass is behind him and the later has to fetch the ball and then go forward, this extra second wasted is vital and just sucks whole of the momentum because other players are also making movements in and around the box. Now, the other instance when Firmino is spotted, the ball is played to the Brazilian at such a slow that he can’t use the that pace to turn the last midfielder around to play a swift pass to the striker or use that pace to striker himself. More or less the same thing applies for Henderson’s midfield partner Can too.
Overall, Jurgen Klopp was not a satisfied man and rightly so, the performance was certainly below par and at few times it looked like players are happy playing for an away draw which is alarming mentality to have if your aim to win this competition and get back to being Europe’s elite. But, in other sense it has to be said that Liverpool are the ones who are the favourites to clinch the tie come next week at Anfield, a bit of heart and will required though to win a European game, performance like this might well frustrate the Anfield Kop too.
By Mizgan Ahmed on 19th February, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans