Setup switch boosts Reds attack in League Cup final – Liverpool Tactical Overview

on 28.02.2016

Though it ended in disappointment, Liverpool’s performance in the League Cup final showed positive signs, with Jurgen Klopp‘s second-half tactical switch proving inspired.

Liverpool 4-2-3-1 vs. Man City

Despite going behind early in the second half to a Fernandinho strike, Liverpool clawed back into Sunday’s Wembley final to take City to a penalty shootout.

But with Willy Caballero in inspired form, the Reds were unable to notch another spot-kick victory, as Yaya Toure’s low effort saw Manuel Pellegrini’s side to the League Cup trophy.

Though they were eventually disappointment, supporters should be encouraged by the improvements made throughout the 120 minutes—not least by the tactical work of Klopp.

Lining his side up in his usual 4-2-3-1 formation, Klopp charged his side with overrunning City early on.

Simon Mignolet took up his place in goal, while Lucas Leiva joined Mamadou Sakho, Nathaniel Clyne and Alberto Moreno in defence, shielded by the two-man midfield united of Emre Can and Jordan Henderson.

With Can and Henderson rotating their roles in midfield, with one sitting while the other pushed forward, Liverpool focussed their efforts on the left flank.

No doubt inspired by Philippe Coutinho‘s merciless display up against Bacary Sagna in November’s 4-1 win at the Etihad Stadium, Klopp’s approach saw Liverpool swarm around the French right-back.

With Coutinho floating on the left wing, the energetic Moreno and Can pushed forward in support, while both Roberto Firmino and Daniel Sturridge moved towards this area in attack.

James Milner, stationed on the right, drifted inside as a supporting presence.

But with City punishing the Reds on the counter, and this setup failing to conjure an opening following Fernandinho’s goal, Klopp prompted a tactical switch.

Liverpool 4-1-2-1-2 vs. Man City

Within a stretch of nine minutes, Klopp introduced Adam Lallana and Divock Origi, with Moreno and Firmino withdrawn.

This saw Milner move into a role at left-back, and Liverpool take up a 4-4-2 diamond shape.

Can dropped into the holding role, while Lallana and Henderson operated as the flanks of this compact midfield structure, with the former particularly useful moving into the final third.

It was Origi that proved the most influential, however, with the Belgian joining Sturridge in attack, backed up Coutinho in the No. 10 position.

Origi’s energy and dynamism provided Liverpool with a constant outlet in attack, as well as crucial support for Sturridge, who had spent much of the evening isolated.

Origi, Sturridge, Clyne and Lallana were all involved as Coutinho levelled the scores on 83 minutes, with the overwhelming attacking approach of Klopp’s 4-4-2 crafting the opening, as City found themselves outnumbered.

Measured in defeat after the game, Klopp indicated that this two-striker system was “an option when they are fit.”

With Origi clearly ahead of Christian Benteke in the centre-forward pecking order, it may not be long before supporters see this effective attacking system in action once again.


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  1. Seeing the right tactical moves being made is a huge positive during Klopp’s reign so far. I love we completely go for it when we’re losing.

  2. Tactically Klopp is a master. But the master can only do so much with this team. Nevertheless, today was an exciting time for me as a fan. I am hopeful for the future.

  3. I not going to say that he should have listened to me and selected the diamond formation from the start (I didn’t realise that we had shifted to it with all the substitutions), but it plays to our strengths. Emre Can bossing midfield without having to share the platform with Henderson and Coutinho bossing behind the front pair.

    A couple of other points:
    Was Moreno’s substitution tactical, if so, pretty damning!
    Lucas being selected ahead of three fit CB’s is damning of their ability.
    Benteke not playing at all surely means he is for the chop.
    Wow, never seen Firmino playing that poorly!

    • Generally you can’t pay the diamond with citeh because they would just exploit the wings with their pace. And he did try that with navas later but we were desperate anyhow.
      One holding mid always looks more balanced but again it opens up one side or the other to be attacked.
      Firmino seems to be good as a false 9 but not as an AM. Hopefully better next season.
      Migs mistake meant we had to change our plan which opened up space and led to their attacks. He should not then be praised.

    • I know that the diamond brings out the best of our attacking flair, but it has 2 glaring negatives – (i) we can get destroyed by teams with pacy wingers (remember Bolasie taking us to the cleaners?) (ii) we are unable to break down teams that sit deep due to our lack of width. It’s an excellent go-to formation to have in the locker, but moving forward, it’s not the best option to have as our main formation. All the top teams use the full width of the pitch to stretch the opposition, from Madrid and Barcelona to Bayern and Dortmund.

    • I’d really like to see Firmino playing up front with Sturridge, he has excelled up front so far, so why not keep him there, in the AM role he’s very hit and miss, either Countinho or Origi can then play behind them, plenty of pace to scare ANY defence.

  4. The penalty shootout wasn’t clever by us. With a huge keeper we needed to keep them low. But we put them at a perfect height for him and made him the hero.

    • I’m very surprised Milner did not take one anyway, afterall he took one in the last match and scored, but sadly we can’t turn back the clock, but Can for me was the ONLY player I’d have chosen out of the ones that did, Coutinho needs to stop trying to be clever in the future too, he may as well have ballooned it.

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  5. Klopp selection was poor in my opinion, 3 games 1 penalty with the same attack, should have change for this match, if was Brendan with this selectioned he would have been criticized big time.

    • Hard to criticize Klopp until he builds a team with his own players. Rodgers would have been rightly criticized because he couldn’t win with players he chose.

      • Especially if he had Sturridge, Firmino, and Origi in attack. Now imagine what today’s game would have been like with Balotelli, Lambert, and Borini instead.

      • Disagree Klopp does the selection of the players, he said he have a top squad, and he doesn’t need any players in the just concluded window, so he should be criticize.

        • Klopp knows it wouldn’t do much to disparage the players and undermine their confidence. Do you really want him to tell them that they’re all rubbish and then expect them to go out and play hard and win for him? And just how many players would he need to get during the window to satisfy critics? Eleven?

          • I agree, but starting the same 3 players in attack for the fourth games running, with 1 penalty to show, makes no sense, I am saying tweek it a bit, at the start of the game to get a different result, that’s all I am saying.

          • Fair enough, but those three players probably looked the best on the training pitch. Plus, he’s trying to build a relationship among them. How many times have those lads started together all year? They’re still getting used to each other’s rhythms and runs.

    • I think playing with one defensive midfielder forces him to pass forwards rather sideways when he is part of a double team i.e.4-2-3-1 as his team-mates are naturally ahead of him.

      I know it sound stupidly simplistic, but think about it as the easiest option is to pass sideways.

    • If we can sign a really well rounded midfielder in the Summer that would be great, the trouble with the midfield is that some players can do this, but not that and others can do that, but not this.
      A true midfield general is a must for any team that has any ambition to play and compete with the best teams, not just in the league, but in Europe too.

  6. 1.Lucas Leiva again the best player and the only leader there you dont rate leiva and skrtel you dont know liverpool . Nathaniel Clyne brilliant all night long second best player.
    2.Yes Milner is not ronaldinho like sturidge but he can defend the ball.He is not a shouting captain like henderson but he is the only one from our midfield except coutinho who try to create chances forward and not giving the ball backward in some 5 metres dinstance passes and he can cross the ball in a team where no one can.So stop complaining about him!!

  7. I would substitute Allen for Lallana going forward.


    • What’s the love in with Allen? Lallana and allen would be better. Hendo is clearly not fit. Or allen-can-lucas.

      • Because Allen has been one of our best performers since November, clearly benefiting from being played higher forward.

        Can plays better from deep where he can see move of the game ahead of him. He offers a nice bit of aggression, but he’s also indisciplined and a bit brainless at times, so he needs players around him who can cover for him when he goes on his rampaging runs.

        Allen is one of the most intelligent players on the pitch, with incredible workrate and a very effective presser. I view Allen not so much as an isolated player, but as part of a midfield unit and I think pairing him with Can and Henderson (or Lallana) makes for a nicely balanced trio.

      • It is not difficult to see several players slotting into any number of positions. Once Sturridge is on the pitch, I think a lot of players suddenly find their natural roles.

        As for Milner, I struggle to remember many performances that were above a 6 level. Allen has had a couple of 8 performances already. And while Allen is hardly a speed merchant, he gets playing moving quickly while Milner tends to make things a bit lumbering. I like him, but he’s hardly a guaranteed starter.

  8. I much prefer this change of tactic, I’ve always thought that it’s too attack minded for the quality of players we have at present (at least), the midfield and defence are just not solid enough, nor well rounded enough to handle playing as we have on a consistent regular basis.
    With the stupid amount of money coming into the game now there will be many teams trying to BUY the title, let’s hope LFC do some business, but also involve our young midfielders more too, I honestly think that at least 2 or 3, possibly even more can make it into the first team, let’s not get like Chelsea and Man City where the youngsters just sit there watching matches and very rarely setting foot on the pitch.

  9. I just wonder if we stumbled on a new lineup

    Clyne Kolo Lucas Milner
    Hendo Can
    Sturridge Firmino Coutinho

    I think Origi should lead the line, as Sturridge drops deep and wide anyway
    Could play Lallana instead of Sturridge if he needs rest after playing 120 mins
    Moreno needs time out to look at his defensive game
    Wanted to find room for Milner, as he’s been one of our best players in 2016 and he played well there against city. Another option is Flanno, hmm.

  10. Our system is not working hasn’t all season but no one is changing it the season we finished second we leaked goals but scored loads . Now we don’t score and still concede goals . Under klopp or Rodgers doesn’t matter which one of them we don’t create chances . Nothing’s changed in two seasons we still go sideways and backwards more than forward . It’s ok for people to say benteke doesn’t fit the way we play but truth is the way we play isn’t working . The old saying if it’s not broken don’t fix it . However it’s broken we have a squad full of internationals Leicester are top of the league playing a great brand of football with a bunch of journeymen . Southampton the same their whole squad had to be rebuilt and their better than us . We had one effort in 90 minutes yesterday

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