Despite a weekend win at Anfield vs Bournemouth, Liverpool still look…off.
The winter break was not kind to Jurgen Klopp’s men. Their intensity has dropped. Their link up play has evaporated. Teams are dropping six on a backline and Liverpool can’t break them down.
Getting bounced by Dbag Extraordinaire Diego Simeone’s whining pansy troupe Atletico Madrid in the Champions League Round of 16 is not how most Anfield faithful thought this campaign would end.
Here are three fixes Jurgen Klopp could make to turn the tide against Atleti.
Three Liverpool Fixes vs Atletico Madrid
1. Bench Fabinho
Yeah, that hurt to type. But Fabinho has not been in form since returning from his ankle injury. He’s been directly responsible for errors leading to two goals against the Reds, including the Atleti winner at Wanda.
He’ll be fine and among the first on the team sheet again soon. But on Wednesday, Klopp needs to opt for a different midfield look.
2. Creativity in the midfield
Klopp can afford to sit Fabinho if Jordan Henderson is fit and ready (as he’s reported to be). Hendo was in the form of his life pre-injury. The squad missed the captain’s intensity and accountability. He’ll fill most of Fabinho’s defensive role (as he did when the Brazilian was injured) while also providing a tad more creative spark.
Klopp’s big miscalculation in the away match vs Atleti was opting for his preferred XI midfield of Fabinho, Hendo, and Gini Wijnaldum. That midfield is the perfect disruptive force to stymie the Manchester City’s of the world. Against a parked bus like Atleti, someone in the middle capable of breaking down 6-8 men defensive walls is an absolute must.
Look for the boss to start Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and bring on The Injured Naby Keita or Takumi Minamino in the second half if the Reds are struggling to break through.
Let Sadio run on Trippier
Kieran Trippier is legit. However, Sadio Mane has run him ragged in the Premier League. Trippier was out in leg 1. He’s back now. Feed Sadio Mane the damn ball.
Expect Andy Robertson to be at his marauding best this match. Klopp will pair Gini on the left flank to provide Robbo additional defensive cover. Robertson will act essentially as an additional forward to force 1vs1 coverage of Mane by Trippier.
If Liverpool advance, expect Mane to have a hand in one or two goals.