Dejan Lovren, man. There was a time in his Liverpool career when he had almost zero support. His confidence was so low that just looking at Yannick Bolasie caused him to damn near fall over. Such is the effect that Klopp has on players and his surroundings it would seem that Lovren can do no wrong.
This lack in confidence was in part due to the fact under Brendan Rodgers there seemed to be a continual rotation policy in which no defender was likely to play more than two consecutive games. He soon developed a reputation for being a hugely calamitous defender which wasn’t the case when he was at Southampton.
Not to give you the impression that this article is about how Bolasie affected Lovren but I can’t help mention it again. The amount of times the Croatian has been rolled and left in a a heap by Palace’s speedster is atypical of what you expect from a defender worth £20 million.
Flip through the book and you’ll reach a chapter titled Klopp for Kop. This may be the most important chapter in Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool career. He has been, like many of his teammates, a revelation under the charismatic German manager. Gone is the player who would make schoolboy errors at the slightest hint of pressure.
Such is his transformation Liverpool fans were actually disappointed when he was substituted at half-time for Martin Skrtel. Little did fans know just how bad Skrtel would be on the afternoon. He conceded a penalty within minutes and was part of a shambolic defensive display which conceded 3 goals in 22 minutes.
I am sure Lovren will be upset that his teammates couldn’t hold onto a halftime lead of 2-0. With that being said, I am sure he is somewhat glad that Skrtel was so poor. Schadenfreude isn’t uncommon in footballing setups although it would be pleasing to hear that Lovren is bleak for a teammate who had a bad day.
With defeat against Southampton, Liverpool’s chances of making progress at catching up the teams higher up in the table has been reduced majorly. With that in mind, the Europa League is looking likely to be the route which offers the most promise to qualifying for the Champions League.
This so called “easier route”, which some call it, is by no means easy. Liverpool face arguably the strongest team of the tournament in Borussia Dormund – Klopp’s former team. If Liverpool are to make progress past the quarter finals they will need to be at their very best. More important than attack will be defence. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is one of the most in-form forwards in Europe.
After Martin Skrtel’s absolutely horrendous performance against Southampton I imagine there will be riots if he is given the go ahead in place of either Skrtel or Sakho. The ideal defence would have Alberto Moreno back from injury at left back so Nathaniel Clyne can return to his favoured right fullback position. A centre-back partnership of Lovren and Sakho would best as it has been tried and tested.
I can imagine that before the first leg which is at the Westfalenstadion there will be meticulous planning and training. I am also sure Lovren is aware that he will need to concentrate hugely to cope with players like Aubameyang, Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Klopp will not be letting his players get complacent after beating Manchester United to get to the quarter finals. This is Liverpool’s last chance at salvaging the season.
While Lovren may be playing well of late he won’t be coming up against bottlers like Bolasie but rather a world-class outfit with quality in every position. He knows the stakes, we know the stakes and no doubt Dortmund are aware. Liverpool are punching above their weight with Klopp and it is time the blows land.