Jurgen Klopp made a decision against RB Leipzig that will define Liverpool’s season. The Reds are gearing up for a tense finale.
Jurgen Klopp promised changes after the international break but in the end, he came to the decision to make them early. He switched it up against RB Leipzig and all for the better.
There was one decision that will prove defining, though. He put Fabinho back into midfield – and that’s a game-changer.
We don’t blame Klopp for keeping Fabinho in midfield. The boss went into this season with the Brazilian as a fourth-choice option.
The injury crisis made him use Fabinho at the back, then. Only, the injury crisis kept getting worse as every other options faced a season-ending injury.
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But Fabinho was playing well there and Klopp didn’t trust his centre-backs. Not when none of them had elite experience.
Jordan Henderson was covering the holding midfield role, too, as one of the country’s best. It held things together and the Reds topped the table at Christmas.
Further injuries, though – including to Fabinho – forced Henderson into the backline. Then we saw how little faith Klopp had in his defenders as when Fabinho returned, he partnered the captain at the back.
Henderson’s injury forced another problem. With Fabinho out, Liverpool had a dysfunctional midfield and a weak defence. So what now?
Back where he belongs
Klopp had to make a decision. Does he trust his midfield to get it together without a holding player? Or does he trust his centre-backs to rapidly develop into a strong pairing?
The better question might be ‘who does he trust the least?’. In the end, Klopp moved Fabinho back into midfield and the results were plain to see.
The midfield was a cohesive unit that controlled RB Leipzig. The defence had an elite holding player shielding them and benefitted as a result.
Liverpool bossed a good side in Leipzig. They allowed their opponents to have the majority of possession but held them at bay while creating chances.
Everyone looked better and Fabinho was particularly excellent. Liverpool appeared transformed.
This should be game-changing. Liverpool face a two-month run to compete in Europe and qualify for next-year’s competition – tough asks, given their recent form.
But Fabinho’s impact was so complete that the Reds look ready for it all. Klopp made his decision – trust the centre-backs and rebuild the midfield.
It may only be one game’s worth of evidence but it seems he made the right call.
For five things we learned against RB Leipzig, click here.