Liverpool reach Europa League semi-finals, after a dramatic second half rally at Anfield saw them through on 5-4 aggregate score against Borussia Dortmund.
Klopp made just one change to the lineup that featured against Dortmund in Germany, with Firmino coming in for injured skipper Jordan Henderson. There was an element of surprise when Allen was not named in the starting lineup to partner Emre Can in the midfield, instead Milner was deployed in that central midfield role. It was 4-2-3-1 at start, Can and Milner in central midfield; Firmino, Coutinho and Lallana playing in behind striker Origi.
Let’s analyse the shape through tactics board and what changes were brought later on to change the game in favour of Liverpool :-
As earlier stated, we can see in the image above, it was a conventional 4-2-3-1 to start with. It was an offensive minded lineup with Can the only holding midfielder in there as Milner was moving himself up the pitch more often than not. Dortmund started brightly and exposed Liverpool’s defensive frailties.
Clyne and Moreno were very wide which allowed likes of Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Reus to play on those half gaps offered by Liverpool in between centre-back and fullback. Moreno again got his positional game wrong, he was good moving forward but tracking back from the Spaniard was as poor as it gets. He was little responsible for the second goal when Aubameyang stationed himself on the left in the gap left by Moreno and the fullback didn’t even read the ball from Reus which made the striker to go one on one against Sakho and score.
Can was good on the ball and was clever position-wise in his play. He knew that Milner is not the one to sit back with and mark certain player, so he stationed himself in the middle of the park helping out the centre-backs when needed and provided some good offensive balls to open up Dortmund. The German was at his best with his one touch passing with Firmino at the centre of the pitch and then letting Origi one on one with the goal-keeper which the Belgian finished expertly.
We’ll now look at Dortmund’s first and third goal situations and how both centre-backs were at fault for these goals :-
As we see in the image, this was the situation when Dortmund scored their first goal. Lovren is already out of position here as he was tempted by Kagawa in the build-up. This left a huge gap where Aubameyang stationed himself cleverly. Sakho was in no mans land there and should have made a decision whether to mark Mkhitaryan who is on the left of him or go back and track the run of Aubameyang, the Frenchman did neither and Clyne was slow in tracking back to cut out an easy route for Aubameyang. All in all it was a positional mistake by Lovren who left his place and got his team in trouble but some responsibility should have been taken by Sakho.
This was the situation of Dortmund’s third goal, again Lovren went ahead of his position to mark other play, which left a huge gap between Clyne and him for Hummels to pick out Reus one on one with Mignolet and the German play-maker finished it expertly too.
Now let’s analyse the change made by Klopp in the hour mark to tilt the balance in favour of Liverpool :-
The shape was changed to 4-4-2 diamond with Allen and Milner ahead of Can, Sturridge linking up play with Origi and Coutinho centrally. Allen was again influential once he came on. He was very calm and composed on the ball allowing likes of Origi, Coutinho and Sturridge to run beyond him in spaces. Sturridge on the right and centrally was very good on and off the ball. Origi combining with Coutinho stretched the Dortmund back-line and Milner became more of a right winger for last half hour or so. It was a brilliant in-game change made by Klopp and it paid off to the highest level, sign of a class manager this.
Dortmund will be disappointed the way they threw away 2-0 and 3-1 leads in the second half, Tuchel was a disappointed man but he correctly admitted that his team became nervous and accepted the loss. His team got dragged all over the place especially in the second half and they just couldn’t match the intensity of Liverpool.
Liverpool, on the other hand started slowly but once they grew into the game became more and more hungrier to win the ball get it forward. A European semi-final now for the Reds and one more special European night at Anfield, perfect for Klopp and his men.
By Mizgan on 15th April, 2016
Twitter – @mizgans