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Leeds to Pose a Particular Tactical Challenge for Klopp’s Reds

While much of the chat leading up to the matches at the weekend surround issues of player availability after the international break, Klopp spent some time unpacking the tactical challenge posed by Leeds.

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Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United reacts during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on April 19, 2021 in Leeds, England.
Marcelo Bielsa, Manager of Leeds United reacts during the Premier League match between Leeds United and Liverpool at Elland Road on April 19, 2021 in Leeds, England.
Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Two weeks after facing a very well-organized and reactive Chelsea side, Jürgen Klopp faces a different tactical challenge against Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds at the weekend.

While Klopp’s major challenge might be that he simply doesn’t know who he can play given the ongoing issues with Brazil and FIFA, Leeds’ style of play will look to test Liverpool’s tactical approach and fitness levels.

“In general, Marcelo Bielsa’s style and philosophy and how they defend is different, it’s man-marking over the whole pitch. So you have to know about it,” Klopp explained to Liverpoolfc.com.

In his pre-match press conference, Klopp reflected on playing Bielsa’s Leeds for the first time last season — though he looks forward to playing such a high-intensity teem in front of a full Elland Road.

It was really exciting, both games. They have obviously a specific way of playing football, with a strict man marking system philosophy or idea in terms of defending, and then very very flexible, very brave, very dynamic [mode] in possession.

So, a really good football team, and we have to be at our best to get something there.

According to Opta, Liverpool have scored in 21 of their last 22 meetings with Leeds in all competitions, and though the two teams have not met as much as they were once used to since Leeds left the top flight, Liverpool have scored against the Whites in each of their last 15 meetings (since a goalless draw at Elland Road in April 1999).

Leeds are yet to win this season, but they are unbeaten in their last seven home games (W3 D4); Liverpool will look to put a stop to that pattern by approaching the game with a level of tactical awareness that might have been a bit lacking in the open games against Leeds in 2020/21.