Liverpool counter-attack perfectly suited for Champions League football

Liverpool counter-attack perfectly suited for Champions League football
From ESPN - February 15, 2018

Champions League football clearly agrees with Liverpool.

Jurgen Klopp's side completely dismantled FC Porto on Wednesday night and, although the Reds' boss is far too professional to declare the tie over, not even the most wildly optimistic Porto fan would give their side any hope of overcoming a 5-0 deficit at Anfield in three weeks' time.

Liverpool are now the top scorers in the competition, having overtaken PSG: in seven games they have plundered 28 goals. They score plenty domestically too, but they have gone goal crazy in Europe where the more open nature of the games suits their counter-pressing and counter-attacking style.

Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal colourfully explained recently how his side pulled off a shock victory over the Reds just one week after Klopp's men had ended Manchester City's unbeaten start to the season. "If you put a Formula 1 car in London in 4 p.m. traffic, the car will not run very fast," he said. "And that is exactly what we had to do against Liverpool. Put them to play the way they do not like."

In football terms that translates to sitting deep in numbers and denying Liverpool's lightning quick attackers room to run into. It does not always work, but it's the best chance most sides have of achieving any success against Klopp's team.

Most sides in the bottom half of the table play that way against superior opposition and Liverpool often have great difficulty with it. Europe is different, however, and the Champions League especially so. While many of the teams in the competition are nowhere near the level of Liverpool and the other top English sides, they are the best their own country has to offer and are therefore unused to playing in the defensive manner that works best against the Reds.

Porto are currently the best team in Portugal and they have a rich and proud European pedigree, so there was simply no way they were going to completely abandon how they play and try to copy what Swansea did.

Playing that way when you are bottom of the Premier League is common practice but teams in the Champions League are accustomed to dominating the opposition and therefore tend to play much more on the front foot. Even if they wanted to "park the bus," Porto probably would not know how to as it would be completely alien to what they do each week in their own league.

It's the same throughout the Champions League and it plays right into Liverpool's hands. Group opponents Maribor and Spartak Moscow are successful sides in their own domestic leagues and are used to playing football a certain way. If you play like that against Liverpool though it usually does not end well. Both were hit for seven goals by Klopp's team.


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