Thiago’s best skill is one that can win the FA Cup final for Liverpool later today. The Spaniard is their key man.
It’s FA Cup final day and for the first time in 10 years, Liverpool are involved. Funnily enough, they’re playing Chelsea – just as they did in 2012.
Here’s another similarity – the Reds go into this one having already won the EFL Cup. We’ll cross our fingers that the similarities end there, though, as Liverpool did lose that game 2-1.
It’ll be tough, though. Chelsea are a fantastic side and the reigning European champions for the next two weeks. They’re also a side that consistently troubles Liverpool as Thomas Tuchel typically nails his tactics against Jurgen Klopp.
After all, everyone knows how Liverpool will play. 4-3-3, look for a direct pass into the forwards, otherwise, build patiently from the back. Press hard with a high defensive line and try to hurt them in transition.
Tuchel, on the other hand, is a little more flexible and he typically tries to take advantage of Liverpool’s style. As we say, the Reds look to go long from the back or play out from deep – either way, their possessions start deep in their own half. Tuchel knows that and we’ve seen reluctant pressing from Chelsea in a 3-4-3 or 3-4-2-1 against Liverpool.
That proves problematic. The three centre-backs, on top of wing-backs, make it difficult for the forwards to make runs. Similarly, the three attacking players push the centre-backs very hard and narrow as they try to play out. Chelsea create chances simply from forcing Liverpool into mistakes in deep positions.
There is a weakness, though, and Liverpool have the perfect player to take advantage. The Reds need Thiago’s best skill to be on show.
Thiago is in sensational form for Liverpool and plays a key role in their play now. He’s the go-to in possession, the one who can break lines suddenly and keep the team moving forward.
That’s vital against this Chelsea side and it was missing at Wembley in the EFL Cup final. While the Blues can stop the ball over the top and push the centre-backs hard, it does leave them vulnerable in the middle. Break the press and you can create a very simple 3v2 against their midfielders, especially with your own centre-forward dropping back as a False 9.
Thiago is world-class at breaking presses and it’s unquestionably his greatest skill. You can’t press him properly – he passes and turns on the ball too quickly. Finding him is Liverpool’s best chance at exploiting Chelsea’s press and getting the Reds a numerical advantage in the middle.
We have no doubt that Klopp will start him this evening and don’t be surprised if Thiago is the one who controls the game today.