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Jurgen Klopp turns to Pep Guardiola playbook with tactics vs Southampton

Jurgen Klopp turned to tactics once seen from Pep Guardiola with his decisions against Southampton on Monday. The Liverpool boss went in a unique direction.

How do you tackle having no senior centre-halves available? By not using centre-halves at all, of course.

Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip are all out with injuries leaving Liverpool with a difficult selection problem against Southampton.

The easy solution is putting a kid in there and hoping for the best. That’s what we’ve seen from Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips in recent weeks.

Jurgen Klopp did not take the easy solution.

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Instead, the Liverpool boss played both Fabinho and Jordan Henderson in the middle of the back four. Few saw that coming against Danny Ings – one of the league’s best forwards.

New ideas

Klopp is using tactics firmly from the Pep Guardiola playbook here. The Spaniard had made a habit out of the practice, in fact.

At Barcelona, Guardiola completely converted Javier Mascherano into a centre-half. He used Sergio Busquets there, too.

At Manchester City, we saw Fernandinho effectively play a full season at the back after injuries to certain players.

But it was at Bayern Munich where Guardiola truly made this a habit. Guardiola would often use out-of-position players in the centre-back spots and, on occasion, both of his players were out of position.

Sometimes, it was a full-back like David Alaba back there. But Javi Martinez, the now-forgotten Gianluca Gaudino and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg all frequented centre-half under Guardiola.

Now, Klopp does it out of necessity, whereas Guardiola had a tactical preference out of it. He wanted defenders who were completely comfortable on the ball, both with their touch and passing.

Playing with a very high line and dominating possession, defensive midfielders and full-backs made for natural solutions.

He got players who could start moves quickly from the back, while they were constant passing outlets in the middle.

This was a period Klopp saw closely, of course. Bayern were his arch-rivals at Borussia Dortmund while Guardiola was there.

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And he appears to have taken inspiration from his nemesis to handle the injury crisis. Klopp will put his own spin on things, of course, and ask for different tactics from his players.

But it was Guardiola who unmistakably proved that this can work. Klopp will hope to take that knowledge and find a way to use it to his advantage.

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