Liverpool Analysis – How Klopp got the better of Pochettino this season
The Champions League Final is four days away, with two English teams in it for the first time in a decade.
Both, Liverpool and Tottenham like to play an attacking brand of football with a high press, hence, expecting a gruelling final in Madrid shouldn’t be an exaggeration.
Now, if we look at the final league positions of these two teams, the Reds finished second, 26 points and two places ahead of their opponents on Saturday.
Jurgen Klopp’s men also did the league double over Mauricio Pochettino’s men, which also shows that the former does have a slight edge over the latter going into this big European final.
Below, we take a look as to how Klopp got it tactically right to get the better of Pochettino in both league games, and how it won’t be easy to do that in the final:
Tottenham 1-2 Liverpool (at Wembley)
This game was early on in the season, where Liverpool pressed the life out of Spurs to take a two-goal lead until the hour mark. After that, they sat deep, allowed Pochettino’s men to attack and hit them on the break.
Only if Mohamed Salah or Sadio Mane had been more clinical, the Reds could have scored at least four goals that day.
From Tottenham’s point of view, they tried to play from the back and build through midfield. It played into Liverpool’s hands as Roberto Firmino closed the spaces down in central lines, while Salah and Mane, supported by midfielders, pressed the Spurs midfielders.
What that did is, it either forced Pochettino’s men to go back and play long balls towards Harry Kane which were aerially won by Virgil van Dijk or play a risky pass in midfield that got intercepted more often than not.
Liverpool 2-1 Tottenham (at Anfield)
This game was played in the last matchweek of March, where Spurs came out with a different setup at Anfield. Pochettino went with five at the back, with a very narrow midfield and front line.
Being the home side, Liverpool had both fullbacks very high up the field, forcing back Spurs’ wing-backs.
Moreover, with Spurs playing without a winger, both Trent and Robertson had space in wide areas, as Salah and Mane were operating in spaces between the wide centre-back and the wing-back, occupying the latter.
Hence, the switch of play was on every time and eventually, the game’s first goal, which was scored by Firmino, came via a great cross from Robertson.
Pochettino rectified that tactical mistake by switching to a 4-2-3-1 system after the hour mark, allowing the fullbacks to go forward and instilling width into the team. It worked a treat, as Tottenham managed to score the equaliser and nullified the wide threat of Liverpool.
Then, Klopp reacted by bringing Fabinho on and inserting control in midfield, which reeled the game back in the favour of the home side to some extent.
At the end of the day, that game was decided by a freakish moment from Hugo Lloris and Toby Alderweireld.
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Final will be a different kettle of fish
We got to know that Jurgen Klopp has loads of tactical tricks in his armoury to blunt Tottenham and take control of the final.
However, with how Pochettino reacted to adversity at Anfield, it shows that the Spurs boss has it in him to react in the right way in big games.
Therefore, in Madrid, we can expect a very different game, with both managers trying to impose their philosophies in the first half. As the game progresses, the one who reacts better to adversity may end up taking the biggest trophy in Europe.