Juergen Klopp would have fond memories of Stamford Bridge, where he registered his first ever win, a 1-3 victory at the expense of Jose Mourinho in 2015. Tony Conte, however, wouldn’t be in a giving mood, and would be looking to deconstruct the German’s patented geggenpressing, by summoning the Italian quality of obstinacy. Here’s how.
#1 The Low Block
The ancient Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu, in his memoirs of Art of War, wrote something in the lines of ‘pick the battles you want to lose, in order to win the war’. That’d be something that Tony Conte will look to do against Juergen Klopp’s hounds from hell.
When Liverpool hosted Leicester, their 3 man midfield ran amok, running rings around the defending champion’s midfield, with a perfect balance between verve and vigilance. Henderson was given the responsibility of being the midfield hustler, as Bob Firmino, in his free role, displayed the stealth of a ninja, in his off-the-ball running; while Adam Lallana, growing ever-familiar with his role of a shuttler, harried with a churning hunger for possession.
The key-stone of Juergen Klopp’s attacking dynamic is to hit teams on the counter, on the face that, Conte will allow Liverpool the possession as often as possible, and as far away from their goal as they can, with two banks of fours soaking the pressure, choking avenues of the give-and-go’s, and tiring out the opposition.
The second part of the plan would be to bypass the entirely of Liverpool’s midfield, when Chelsea have the ball, and punt one true and long. This would take the geggenpressing aspect of Juergen Klopp’s midfield unit out of the equation. For example, this was an expedient tactic that Pep Guardiola used in the first Klassiker of last season, where he instructed his Bayern players to trebuchet the ball the moment they get it, towards the general directing of Robert Lewandowski. Tuchel, none the wiser, unable to counter the simplest and most effective of footballing ploys, was at a loss, as his team was beaten 5-1 on the night.
Consequently, doing so would catch the front-footed Liverpool players flat-footed, and struggling to fall back, cover and defend their lines.
#3 Diego Costa The Battering Ram
Robert Lewandowski, in that aforementioned match, scored two and laid the passage of play for the 3 others. Similarly, a fit and firing Diego Costa will be the primary cog for this machination to work. Liverpool have had a long history of unable to cope with the big and burly variety of centre-forwards, just ask Didi Drogba. That weakness flairs up each and every time the Merseyside giants are faced with the proposition of defending aerial balls, and will no doubt aid Chelsea’s cause.