It’s pretty difficult for anyone to best this Liverpool side at the moment. Stretching back to last season, the likes of Manchester City, Barcelona and Bayern Munich amongst many, many others have succumbed to near-inevitable defeat as Liverpool lost a single game to the reigning league champions last year and again to pesky Napoli so far this term.
The Reds have evolved from the heavy-metal gegenpressing, all-out attacking style that characterized Jürgen Klopp’s early years at the club into the controlled but ruthless counterattacking side that has taken Europe by storm.
Even managers like City’s Pep Guardiola known for their tactical prowess have been stumped when faced with the hard-pressing forwards, energetic midfield and organized, athletic defensive line Klopp has forged in his image.
However, one person who knows the club as well as any other in former Liverpool and Newcastle manager Rafa Benitez believes he has a formula that could work:
”We tried with Newcastle United but we could not get behind them because they were faster than our players,” the Spanish coach said speaking as a pundit on Sky Sports.
”If you don’t have a team that is as strong as them then it is very difficult because you have to defend. If you have very good players who can keep the ball in possession then you can try but it will be difficult because they are aggressive.
”These three players up front, they can press, they are quick, so it is not easy to play from the back.”
Benítez went on to cite a case study of the strategy in action, going back to his time as manager at Napoli coming up against Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund in the 2013 Champions League, famously beating the German side 2-1 in the opening match of the group stages.
”When I was at Napoli we beat Borussia Dortmund at home because we were moving the ball quite quickly and we were running in behind when the full-backs were high,” Benitiz explained.
”The space is there in behind so that is where you need to run,” he added.
”They press so quickly that the first pass has to be a very simple pass. You have to go away from the pressing. Afterwards, you have to go and put the ball behind the defenders. If you do that you will have more chances.
”At Newcastle, we were trying to run behind them but they were so quick that we couldn’t get past them. If you have the right players with the right movements and the right pace, you can exploit those spaces behind.
”But they are so good, it is easy to say here. It is very difficult to stop them even if you know that.”
You could almost hear Guardiola frantically urging his staff to take notes before Sky Sports host, David Jones stepped in to change the subject from anti-Liverpool strategies.
Good looking out, Dave.
Watch the full video below: