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Jurgen Klopp gives rare tactical insight on first half vs. Man City

Jurgen Klopp gave a rare insight into his tactical preparation after a first-half display against Man City that made “absolutely no sense” for Liverpool.

The difference between the Reds’ performance before and after half-time in Sunday’s 2-2 draw at Anfield was night and day.

It is a testament to the attention to detail of Klopp and his staff, and the resolve of the squad, that they were able to turn things around and twice go ahead through Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

And though they were forced to settle for a point against their title rivals, Klopp was left to “thank god a football game has two halves” in his post-match interview with Sky Sports.

The manager admitted he was “probably [the] most happy in my career about the half-time whistle,” explaining that it is “tricky to get in contact with the players to change things.”

“It was obviously never planned that we would play like this,” he added. “So we needed half-time, we used half-time and we played a really good second half.”

Asked what went wrong for Liverpool in the first half, Klopp divulged about the way he sees City working, and how to combat that.

Man City with the ball is a proper team. But there are, obviously as we saw in the second half, ways to defend it,” he said.

“What you have to do, you have to close down the decisive spaces. For that, you have to step out in specific moments.

“So what do City want to do? First idea, they want to play through the centre.

“But if the centre’s closed, they leave the two wingers high and wide, pass the ball there – if it’s a big switch or just a pass – one-on-one situations, score in the box, whatever.

“I’m not sure I saw a lot of games where City could pass the ball that easy through the half-spaces [as they did today].

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

“Between our wing and No. 8 it was constantly [open]. So what’s the reason for that? We were too passive in the last line.

“We called the midfield line back, so neither Hendo nor Curtis could really step out when necessary.

“We were just passive, they passed the ball through us, they turned and from there we go.

“Obviously they had chances, but they didn’t score from that. But what it gives you is a really bad feeling.

“This bad feeling leads to not playing football, which we didn’t do as well.

“So then we had these long balls, which made absolutely no sense – one or two of them, maybe, made sense.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Liverpool's Sadio Mané celebrates after scoring the first goal during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s relief at the half-time whistle paved the way for a 15-minute intervention that allowed Liverpool to turn the tide, as he reflected:

“Obviously all these things, we changed in the second half.

“Immediately you could see: we set up, we were higher, we were more aggressive in these situations, because we felt closer, we felt more compact.

“They couldn’t play how they wanted anymore, so we were now in the game, we scored wonderful goals.

“The message for the football was play the extra pass. We didn’t do that in the first half, at all.

“I’m really happy with the second half. With the strong opponent, do we want to win the game like this? Yes.

“But we have to admit today, because the game has two halves, the point was completely fine.”

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Sunday, October 3, 2021: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The message clearly got through to the squad, with Jordan Henderson telling LFCTV that the issue came with City being given the freedom to “create overloads” as Liverpool “weren’t applying the pressure high enough.”

Though it is a rarity for Klopp to go into detail about tactics, particularly his own, there is an understanding between him and his squad about why things should happen and how they can go wrong.

Liverpool are not always able to rewrite their mistakes, but fortunately, they could against City, taking a point when the first 45 minutes suggested they were on course for defeat.

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