The most important ingredient to success of any endeavor is the ability to maintain balance. The game of football swings from one end to another in a matter of seconds and it is vital for every team to appreciate the significance of having a well-balanced side. Looking into the matter in question here, it can be noted that Liverpool are one of the more entertaining sides in the league.
The Anfield outfit look seamless on the ball and are irresistible when they get into a rhythm. Upon his arrival, Jurgen Klopp brought with him his trusted and well established ploy of Gegenpressing. This particular tactic needs a team to play at great tempo as they seek to regain possession of the ball immediately upon losing it rather than re-structuring their backline.
While Klopp popularly quoted his style of play, as “heavy, metal football”; this approach has plenty of downsides as well. The first and the foremost is the lack of structure of the team immediately after they have lost the ball. The players do not return to their allotted defensive posts but charge forward in a hail Mary. This means that should the ball make its way past the midfield into Liverpool’s backline, the defenders are caught off their position thereby making them vulnerable to the simplest of attacks.
While Klopp’s men are a treat to watch when attacking, their defense has committed several howlers leading everyone to question Liverpool’s defensive frailties. As is the process with today’s media hype, solutions have poured in on how to secure the backline and the most popular panacea it would seem was to get an established centre-back.
It led to Liverpool hunting for a defender in the market and after months of conflicts with Southampton, the Reds managed to land their top target, Virgil Van Dijk. The defender underwent a medical soon after agreeing personal terms on a contract until 2023 worth in the region of 180,000 pounds a week. The Dutch defender is graceful on the ball and has a towering presence in the box owing to his height and great aerial prowess. He also has a knack for the spectacular; something likely to prove popular with Liverpool’s flamboyant German coach.
Liverpool have paid a mammoth 75 million to land Van Dijk and many believe that he can be the answer to their defensive problems. Van Dijk certainly has wasted little time in establishing his fan base amongst the Reds after netting the winner in the FA Cup derby match against Everton in his debut match. He certainly has started off his career on the right foot at Anfield but the problem with Liverpool cannot be solved by the arrival of one man, in my opinion, regardless of the quality of the player.
Klopp’s set up does not allow defenders to set their defence or to organize their backline. The players base their defensive game largely on their individual talent to knock off the ball from the opposition or by pressing in packs to outnumber the opponent. However, the football pitch roughly covers an area of 6500 yards making it a spacious field to be utilized by 22 players. This would mean that teams who are smart on the ball and know how to hit on the counter will always have the advantage over Liverpool under Klopp. Whether Van Dijk can now galvanize not only himself but the entire team to play in sync without the ball remains to be seen as it might prove to be the only way that Liverpool will survive attacks in the fast-paced action of the English Premier League next season.
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