How Liverpool’s strategy dominated Inter Milan in Champions League (Part II)

How Liverpool’s strategy dominated Inter Milan in Champions League (Part II)

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17 Feb 2022
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The second detail limited the freedom for the attacking trio of Liverpool. Not only did everyone have a direct opponent (Bastoni played on Salah, De Vrey played on Jota, Skrinyar on Mane), but the defenders were not afraid to rise high if the opponents fell back behind the ball. 

 

Examples of perfect performance

Bastogne (in this case playing according to Jota) is even higher than the central midfielder Vidal (playing according to Elliott): Skrinjar (plays according to Mane) is higher than forward Dzeko (plays according to Van Dijk): There are two central defenders in Liverpool’s half at once – for the sake of Mane, Skrinjar came to the left flank, despite the fact that he nominally played closer to the right: 

Despite the complexity of the episodes (they remain 1-in-1 without a safety net), the defenders of Inter managed to do it. They not only held back the attacking trinity, but also boldly went into the selection. The accuracy of Jota and Salah’s passes has collapsed compared to the season (Diogo – by 15%, Mo – by 10%). Pressure losses were also at record levels. For example, Zhota had 4 of them at once for a half – the same number for the Portuguese on average per game.  Liverpool’s pressing style was different. Klopp’s team used the familiar zone pressing model, in which a hexagon (three midfielders three strikers) creates compactness and covers the central zone first. Only the wings remained relatively free

 Liverpool punishing Inter Milan with attitude

Liverpool tried to punish Inter for their courage, Inter checked the flanks. But the defenders were cool here too. On the one hand, pressure severely limited the positional attack – and precisely as a stage. On the other hand, the teams tried different ways to pass the pressure, which in theory could open up a source of chances for them (and even more lethal ones than after positional attacks). The vector set the pressure. “Liverpool” blocked the central zone – there, “Inter” passed only 24% of attacks (the figure for the season is 28%). As a result, the hosts focused on the flanks. After the match, Klopp emphasized this point in particular: “We knew they would create depth in the last line, play the ball from behind and then play diagonal passes to Dumfries or Perisic. This is hard to defend against. We are a pressing team, but rallies help to overcome the pressure. At first we pressed well, it was difficult for them to get out, but, unfortunately, we did not learn anything from this. We put a lot of effort into this pressure, but got nothing in return – no chance, no goal. Then it is difficult to continue in the same spirit.  Under Dumfries and Perisic, Inter used two tricks. The first is thrown behind the backs of Robertson and Trent. Occasionally they lost their position, but they were greatly rescued by the central ones. Both Konate and Van Dijk moved to the flanks and secured. For the whole game, perhaps, there was only one episode when one of them failed (but even then Ibraima rescued Virgil with a tackle).

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