Football Previews

Klopp’s Brazilian influence

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On the back of highly impressive away victory’s at Stamford Bridge and the Eithad Stadium, many have been quick to talk up Jurgen Klopp. The 48-year-old’s energetic and happy-go-lucky persona has been warmly taken to by the Premier League, not to mention the Liverpool supporters.

It is fast becoming clear for most that there has been a significant impact on the attitude and performance levels throughout the Liverpool team. Certain players who had previously struggled, particularly towards the latter part of Brendan Rodgers reign, are now appearing to flourish under the German.

A particular interest is the significance Klopp has had on the Brazilians at the club. The obvious performer at present is Philippe Coutinho who has been instrumental for Liverpool on a number of occasions this season, as well as in previous seasons for the club, improving each year. However it is the consistency of the 23-year-old under Klopp which is making many recognise his world class talent and capabilities.

Playing Coutinho in the front three, operating in a flexible front position, arguably because of the absence of Daniel Sturridge, has given him the opportunity to be increasingly involved in his teams general build up play as well as being a major threat in forward attacks. Klopp has also encouraged Coutinho to press and work harder than he was asked to do under Rodgers, whilst encouraging him to regularly take up dangerous wide and central positions. The result has seen a far more involved player on a defensive and attacking point of view, from tracking back with the opposition full back to being on the end of a Liverpool move. Coutinho’s confidence in and around the goal has also improved, seeing him chip in with 5 league goals so far, matching his overall total last campaign.

“There was some time one year ago he was, for a few months, for sure the best player in Bundesliga”.

Another Brazilian to profit under Klopp has been Roberto Firmino. This may not come as too much of a surprise to some, considering Klopp knew the player relatively well from their respective times working in the Bundesliga. Also, Klopp is clearly an admirer of the forward, giving praise to the former Hoffenheim man when he took over at the helm. “Usually he plays in offensive midfield, or second striker, or he can come from the wing. He’s a pretty skilled player. He continued “There was some time one year ago he was, for a few months, for sure the best player in Bundesliga”.  This kind of statement would likely of improved Firmino’s confidence, as he had struggled to find his feet in the Premier League up until Klopp’s arrival. The forward’s performances have improved each week under Klopp and he was instrumental in his side’s 4-1 victory last weekend against Manchester City, creating two goals and scoring one. A hefty price tag of £29 million for his services have unsurprisingly put him under pressure to perform immediately and he is now beginning to prove his worth for the reds. Similar to Coutinho, Firmino has been deployed in the front three but more recently in a central position, acting as a false number 9. Klopp’s system of high pressing and narrow counter attacking has complimented the forward’s assets and has seen his influence on Liverpool’s play improve dramatically. The question will be whether he be able to retain a central position when Daniel Sturridge and Christian Benteke return to full fitness. However, with a proven track record playing as an inside forward for his country and former club Klopp and the Liverpool faithful will be hopeful he will have little problem retaining his impressive form.

Arguably the most interesting and surprising case is Lucas Leiva. Many tipped it to be the end at Liverpool for the 28 year old, who is Liverpool’s current longest serving player at the club since joining from Gremio in 2007. He fell out of favour with Brendan Rodgers, partly due to injuries which had hampered the his form. Lucas had struggled to find consistent form since returning from a serious injury knee injury originally suffered in 2011 and various injuries since. His lack of form and playing time in Rodgers’ last year at the club indicated it could be nearing the end for his Liverpool career. Despite this, Lucas has been given a new lease of life and has thrived under Klopp, becoming one of the first names on the German’s team sheet and a move away from the club now looks increasingly unlikely. The statistics back his value up, with the Brazilian making 58 tackles so far this season, making him the second highest tackler in Europe.

 

Lucas has made 58 tackles in 11 starts - the second highest in Europe (Top 5 leagues)

Lucas has made 58 tackles in 11 starts – the second highest in Europe (Top 5 leagues)

Lucas has been employed to offer some control in midfield whilst providing extra protection to the defence which has previously seen the reds become unstuck. Klopp has also got Lucas to regularly press in central areas for his side, getting on the toes of any opposition player approaching Liverpool’s defensive third. As well as doing this successfully he has also appeared far more comfortable on the ball, using a range of passing whilst being allowed to join certain attacks when required. Lucas’ work-rate and stamina have fitted perfectly with the ethics of Klopp and if he can stay injury free he could remain a pivotal part of his manager’s future plans.

It is becoming clear that Klopp’s man management and tactical input has influenced the majority of the Liverpool squad and none more so than the Brazilian trio who may prove to be the key to Klopp and Liverpool’s success this season and beyond.

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