Urgent traps and counter-pressing schemes
Each tactical masterminds get their gamers to press (systematically shut down the opponent in possession with the intention to win the ball) and counter-press (press the press i.e. systematically shut down the participant who has gained the ball with the intention to get it again).
However they use it for various functions, as Marti Perarnau, writer of Pep Confidential, writes. Guardiola’s sides win the ball, use a low-risk go backwards and restart the build-up. Klopp’s sides assault, aiming to capitalise on nicking the ball excessive up. This causes Guardiola bother — as a result of his sides unfold broad in possession, to stretch the opposition, they’re susceptible to being caught out after shedding the ball.
Klopp has discovered success with two ploys particularly. One entails harrying the opposition defence in central areas, concurrently blocking the broad passing lanes. The intent is to drive a turn-over and assault the area behind the defence. One other ploy is to spray the ball lengthy from the again, bypassing Guardiola’s midfield, to an space the place Klopp’s facet outnumbers the opposition. The concept is to not win the header, however press and, if wanted, counter-press the defence because it tries to safe the ball.
Velocity of transition
Successful the ball in superior areas is great, however the important thing to remodeling it right into a shot on objective is the pace of transition: the offensive actions, as soon as the ball has been gained (after urgent) or gained again (after counter-pressing), shouldn’t allow the defence time to recuperate and reorganise.
This requires foot-speed (which Liverpool’s forwards have in a lot) and speedy decision-making and mixture play (which Klopp drills on the coaching floor).
Towards Guardiola’s sides, Klopp units his group as much as play much more immediately: a Sky Sports activities report discovered that Liverpool averages 2.68 passes per passage towards Metropolis within the Premier League, in contrast with 4.13 passes per passage towards others. But it surely advances the ball farther regardless of the shorter passing sequence — 15 metres on common per passage towards Metropolis, in contrast with 10 metres towards others.
Additionally, Liverpool, in one in all these video games, had 36% of the ball however spent 56% of its time within the Metropolis half. Clearly, it does extra with much less and does it at a disconcerting tempo.
Klopp has disrupted Guardiola’s plans by isolating important Metropolis gamers in varied methods. Fernandinho, essential within the build-up because the deepest midfielder, has typically discovered himself the topic of an ambush: when Metropolis performs out from the again, Liverpool leaves Fernandinho open however blocks different passing lanes. His receiving the ball is a set off for a central midfielder to strain him earlier than he can flip. Unstable touches and mislaid passes can ensue. Fernandinho’s most secure possibility — a go again to the ’keeper — can also be not with out danger, due to the variety of Liverpool gamers in proximity. Kevin De Bruyne, however, has needed to cope with being man-marked. In December 2016, Jordan Henderson dogged him so intently that the Belgian did not create a single likelihood from open play.
So, what options has Guardiola discovered? Within the 5-Zero house win in 2017, he switched from a 4-3-3/4-1-4-1 to a 3-5-2 — three on the again “to control [Liverpool’s] counter-attacks”, with marauding wing-backs Kyle Walker and Benjamin Mendy tasked with pumping in crosses.
Guardiola has additionally devised different methods of getting a spare man on the again to cope with Liverpool’s offensive transitions — he has used uneven full-backs, with one advancing and the opposite staying behind to kind a again three with the centre-backs.
Certainly, he has benefited from a extra conservative strategy away from house: in video games the place Metropolis’s possession has ranged from 57 to 66% on the street towards Liverpool, it has misplaced; when it has had between 47 and 51% of the ball, it has drawn (profitable the Neighborhood Protect on penalties). Sitting deeper in compact traces, Metropolis has tried to restrict Liverpool’s alternatives to assault the area behind it.
Metropolis has additionally borrowed from Liverpool’s playbook, utilizing lengthy balls to bypass the Reds midfield, forcing them to progress from the again. Metropolis’s dribblers have been inspired to take opponents on one-on-one, with help behind to counter-press Liverpool and spring fast transitions of their very own.
In brief, Guardiola, in current away matches, has been content material with dominating moments; he hasn’t sought to dominate the ball.
Many of those themes will likely be reprised on Sunday — and there might be a number of new ones, too. It guarantees to be one other fascinating battle.