Liverpool have got to figure out Casemiro ahead of their second leg against Real Madrid. The Brazilian played wonderfully on Tuesday.
Casemiro won eight tackles against Liverpool. That’s a huge number – no one else won more than three. The Reds won nine as a team.
The Brazilian also picked up two interceptions and won a couple of headers. It was a dominant performance and one Liverpool couldn’t handle.
That must change for the second leg.
There are two ways Jurgen Klopp can change things up to worry Casemiro. The first is a switch in midfield.
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Liverpool lined up with Fabinho at the base, with Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita either side. The plan was an energetic, direct approach but it didn’t work.
Klopp changed it before half-time, bringing on Thiago for Keita. And perhaps that’s the simple change this time around.
Use Thiago – a player who sits a little deeper – and draw Casemiro out a little more. Don’t put players around him and he has no one to dominate.
Another option is to give him too many players to handle. Go with more attacking midfielders – perhaps Curtis Jones and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Casemiro can’t be everywhere at once, after all. Push players forward and you can move him about, removing the base from Real’s midfield.
Klopp may want to make the change in attack. There’s an obvious one, too – bring Roberto Firmino in.
Firmino thrives on dropping out of the forward line into Casemiro’s space. Perhaps that’s why Klopp left him out, in truth, but he may back the Brazilian next time.
If Firmino can consistently win that battle, after all, it takes Casemiro out of the game. He can make it difficult, drifting between attack and defence, not allowing his compatriot to follow him.
Alternatively, Klopp could go 4-2-4. Have both Diogo Jota and Firmino up top, both dropping into space and making it impossible for one player to cover both.
It comes with a risk, of course, as Liverpool would be a man down in midfield. They may struggle to stop counters.
This would be the high-risk approach but, honestly, the one we hope to see.