Jurgen Klopp sprang a surprise on Pep Guardiola in 2020. As Liverpool host Manchester City on Sunday, could he do it again?
Liverpool had problems when they went to Manchester City back in 2020. Virgil van Dijk was out for the season, while Fabinho was out, too. Jurgen Klopp needed to make some tough decisions.
His choice was a brave one – he changed Liverpool’s system. The boss almost never does that but he clearly thought such a change could hurt City. It very nearly did.
Liverpool went 4-2-4, sitting Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum in front of the back four. Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota then formed an electric attack that stopped City from pushing too many on.
We called it brave at the time – and it certainly was, even if the game petered out. It arguably had the opposite effect as intended, with both teams hesitant to take many risks.
The tactic clearly caught Pep Guardiola off-guard and gave him a mid-game headache. So the question is, should Klopp try it again?
Klopp caused 2020 headache for Guardiola
That game at the Etihad was pretty even. The xG was 1.6 for City and 1.4 for Liverpool – it could have gone either way. You’ve got to say that’s quite impressive for debuting a new tactic against the eventual champions.
And the key thing to remember is that neither Fabinho nor Van Dijk played in that game. Both would make such a system far stronger. Fabinho can now sit alongside Henderson as a pretty fantastic midfield shield, while Van Dijk certainly strengthens any defence.
Jota, too, is far more integrated with the forwards than he was back then. Using the front-four again should be slightly more fluid than a year ago.
Klopp certainly has the option, then, and we wouldn’t be shocked if he did switch up his tactics. He hinted in his press conference Thursday that he might change his system, in fact.
And given the success in 2020, a stronger 4-2-4 this time around could do some serious damage.