It’s one encounter that every football hipster has half an eye on this week, with the other on Hoffenheim and Wolfsburg. Tony Conte vs Juergen Klopp. Here are three key battles that could tilt the balance of the game either way.
David Luiz vs Roberto Firmino
Both Brazilians, but one is more so than the other, while the other is an amalgamation of two distinctly peculiar styles. It makes for curious reading, when you chart the courses taken by David Luiz and Roberto Firmino. One had his flippancy, which comes with being a footballer from that part of the world, reinforced, in São Paulo, and emboldened in Benfica of Portugal, where he was given the license to galavant around the turf of Estadio De Luz, like a forro dancer, with the ball being his partner.
Bob Firmino, his footballing education taught him to be taciturn. Born in the nondescript town of Maceió, Alagoas, his initiation to football was at an equally unassuming Figueirense, from where, God bless the scout who plucked him, sowed him into the soil of German football, where he sprouted at Hoffenheim, becoming as German a footballer a Brazilian can get.
Bob’s movement off the ball would be next to impossible to contain, what David Luiz, would need to do, however, is to pick his runs when his compatriot approaches the box. If he’s left unattended, he’ll cause mayhem as he did vs Leicester City, scoring 2, and involved in all 4.
N’Golo Kante vs Phil Coutinho
Liverpool flew in a private jet to stadium Arena Amazonia in Manaus, where it taxied in the air, waiting for the final whistle to blow in Brazil’s 3-0 drubbing of Ecuador, last week, only to rest him for the Leicester match. While 1/4 of the previous statement may not be true, it gives you an idea of how mile-high and esteem, Liverpool’s management holds lil’ Phil Coutinho.
Scored 2 goals in the fixture at Stamford Bridge last season, he single-handedly hammered in tow of the last three nails in Jose Mourinho’s ill-fated stint, while giving Juergen Klopp his first win.
The lil’ man for the big matches has scored, and scored emphatically, against all of the top six teams, home and away. N’Golo Kante will have to be at the top of his powers to make sure the Brazilian magician sees as little as the ball as possible.
Diego Costa vs Joel Matip
Guess who’s back? Back again? Costa’s back, tell a friend.
There much speculation as to where this could be the end of the big-bad-bully of the English Premier League, but with the advent of Tony Conte, the Brazilian has had a resurgence, scoring distinctly decisive goals this season, with 2 vs Swansea last week. and already up to 4 goals and 1 assist this season.
The 6’4” worth of Joel Matip will have to use the full extent of his body to get in the way of dauntless Diego – this is one battle that could decide the outcome of the match, most tellingly.