April 23, 2021

Three dilemmas Klopp must solve as Real Madrid identify Liverpool’s weakness

3 min read

Toni Kroos has admitted that Real Madrid went out to exploit the changes in Liverpool’s defence during the 3-1 win in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final.

Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips have performed admirably in recent weeks, but struggled against Los Blancos, with the hosts able to run in behind the high line.

“Lots of things went well in the first half,” Kroos told Sony Sports India. “We came out very motivated and even concentrated in our gameplan and it went well.

“We tried to attack them very early because we knew they have had to change some players because they have injured players at the back.

“We thought that’s going to be a good chance to win the ball very early. And of course when we have the ball, our idea was to keep the ball, keep the possession and play forward.

Kroos was central in Real’s win over Liverpool, creating Vinicius Jr’s opener

“I think all of this went well especially when we lost the ball, we got the back ball very fast. I think this was one key for this for this great first half.”

Ahead of the second leg at Anfield, Jurgen Klopp could be forced into a number of changes in order to get his side through.

Selection dilemmas

Naby Keita was hauled off before half-time after a woeful display
(Image: Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)

While there may be a temptation to make changes at the back, moving Fabinho back into midfield has been the catalyst for their improvement in recent weeks.

Moving him back into defence will leave the Reds short in the centre of the park, meaning it is likely Klopp sticks with Kabak and Phillips.

In front of them, it seems a guarantee that Thiago will start alongside Fabinho in front of the back-four.

Although his defensive issues have been highlighted, he does offer a great deal more protection than Naby Keita displayed.

Bobby back in?

Klopp could recall Firmino for the second leg at Anfield
(Image: Liverpool FC via Getty Images)

When Kroos picked out Vinicius for the opener, it was galling to see just how much time and space he had.

While it’s no dig at any of the forwards that started the game, it’s difficult to believe Roberto Firmino would have allowed him to have so much freedom.

Kroos ran the game from that position in between Real’s defence and midfield, playing the Brazilian could help to nullify his influence.

Scrap the high line

Klopp has big decisions to make ahead of next week
(Image: PA)

Perhaps more important than any name on the team sheet is Klopp’s decision on whether he implements a high line.

Real ran riot on Tuesday, constantly exploiting a relative lack of pace at the back.

It had an eerie resemblance to their defeat at Leicester City, where Jamie Vardy had similar joy running in behind.

Although the Reds need to score twice, conceding one could be curtains. Playing in a shape that resembles a low block could keep them in the tie for longer.

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