As Chelsea and Conte are primed to spring the most Italian of surprises on Juergen Klopp, T4O poses 3 question that could decide the course of the one most the tactically intriguing battles of the season.
#1 Is Klopp a BeLeiva?
With the erroneous Croatian, Dejan Lovren back in the mix after recovering from his bruised eye, Lucas Leiva is set to be displaced from the centre of the Liverpool defence. The hard-as-tack Brazilian is a cult-hero among the Liverpool faithful, down to his dogged determination, and against Leicester City, barring that one faux pas that saw Vardy slot home a goal, he was sublime. Juergen later admitted that the former Gremio man’s steel was crucial in their galavanting win vs defending Champions, Leicester City.
While it may be sound playing a player in a role he’s comfortable in, as Dejan Lovren is likely to be paired up with the towering Joel Matip; it’d be equally sound to retain Lucas Leiva in the starting position, in perhaps, his more familiar role of defensive midfielder.
But, the question then arises, which one of the midfielders can Klopp afford to bench? Based on form (or lack of), it could be Genie Wijnaldum. This move could afford Adam Lallana more wiggle room to go ahead and join the attack at a more ready frequency, with Jordan Henderson’s defensive workload being halved, he too could look to dictate the tempo.
#2 Bob or Dan?
This will prove to be a tight match, in fact, the tightest bottleneck Klopp’s charges are set to navigate, with Conte planning to squeeze out any operable space for the oppositions’ smooth operators to break their sweet moves. And with no greenery to run in behind, the blistering pace of Sadio Mane and Dan Sturridge could come a’cropper.
This could be one of those games, where Klopp opts for the Bob and Phil to pull a rabbit out of their hats, looking carve open Chelsea’s banks of 4. Accounting the breath-taking form of Sadio, it’s likely that he wouldn’t be dropped. Coutinho’s chances of starting are backed by his priors against the so-called ‘big clubs’, most notably, the two goals he scored in Klopp’s debut win at Stamford Bridge, the past year. With just one slot left to occupy, it would be between Bob and Dan to nail that centre-forward role.
#3 Will Klopp Compromise On His Geggenpressing?
The setup Tony Conte and Chelsea are set to spring on Juergen and Liverpool, is the worst kept secret in the land, this past week.
“Friday, Chelsea, it’s pretty much clear it will be a real challenge too. Chelsea plus the Italian manager – not a lot of space, I’m pretty sure. So we have to be prepared and we will be prepared.” – Juergen Klopp, post-match, Liverpool 4 – Leicester City 1.
The question is, will Klopp walk straight into their low-block trap? Or will he practice prudence with their ball-possession and concentrate on ball circulation, and not so much on their verticality and pressing, which if too eager, can allow Chelsea to spring the route-1 counter, aimed at Diego Costa, to make the full use of his frame.
Either way, it’s poised to be one of the defining tactical battles of this season, where, if one pips the other, others are sure to follow the template set by Klopp or Conte, to undo Chelsea or Liverpool.