Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle, and it becomes the bottle. You put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now, water can flow, or it can crash. Be water my friend.- Bruce Lee
The above is a philosophical quote from Bruce Lee on life, which basically means that don’t be too rigid, be flexible and adaptive to whatever life throws at you. We will try to see how Liverpool have become like this ‘water’.
Liverpool have started their season brightly, and they are yet to drop any points in the Premier League. They faced a tough encounter against Burnley at Turf Moor, which is quite a challenging place to go. The Clarets have slowly replaced the folklore of Stoke City as it was often exclaimed once ‘can he (a certain player or team) do it on a cold rainy night at Stoke?’
In simple terms, Burnley don’t make it easy for you to play football. They have strong characters who will fight for every second ball, defend astutely and are strong in the air. However, the ease with which Liverpool swatted them aside suggests that they have become like water.
They can outplay teams while playing football at Anfield but they can also grind and dog fight against a side like Burnley beating them at their game by winning second balls and threatening from set-pieces. They are strong while building up from the back, but they can take a direct approach by playing long-balls up the pitch — the latter tactic which Liverpool used to nullify Tottenham Hotspur in the Champions League final.
The final was a tedious watch for the neutrals, but Liverpool knew what they were doing. They didn’t want to play an open game of football against Spurs as Manchester City did in the quarter-finals. Therefore they took a reserved approach after scoring the first goal. They almost grinded out a win reasonably comfortably in the end with Spurs’ best efforts coming from long-range shots.
The Reds can play possession-based football with smart movement, and they can press high when they need. Also, they can be equally devastating on the counter while sitting back, given the pace of the likes of Salah and Mane.
Real Madrid won three back to back Champions League under Zidane but if you look at it, the Galacticos never really had a fixed playing philosophy nor did they define football with their playing style. The team was filled with experienced and top players, and they just adapted to the way their opposition played against them. They were able to play silky smooth football, along with sitting back and waiting to hit on the counter. They were threatening on the set pieces as well, and oh, they were also able to do some shithousery as well to get the wins.
This Liverpool team has also evolved on that front as they have got the likes of Fabinho, Milner, Henderson, Robertson and Van Dijk who can take the shithousery route as well.
To win regularly and against every kind of opposition, you need to be adaptive, and you cannot rely on just one philosophy, and for that, you need to be like water. Remember even Guardiola’s ‘total football’ was found out at Barcelona when Inter Milan got the better of them, and Real Madrid destroyed them when he was with Bayern Munich. This Liverpool team can crush and squeeze side with their high press, but they can also sit back and play on the counter along with beating the likes of Burnley at their own game by playing it rough and indulging in some shithousery and scoring through set-pieces. Therefore Klopp’s men have indeed become like water.
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