Whether it’s a case of Liverpool being just a little off their best or a case of their opponents figuring out ways to frustrate them, early in the 2018-19 season the counter-press and the goals that so often came from it in the past just hasn’t been there.
At least not up until the past week, when games against Red Star Belgrade and Cardiff City saw the attack start to click again. Finally, Liverpool were back pressing high up the pitch, regularly winning the ball back and turning it into scoring chances.
“Lose the ball, get it back, shoot and fire in,” Klopp noted following the victory over Cardiff, reflecting on the way Liverpool’s preferred approach had paid off that day. “That’s really good. We had these situations against Belgrade, too, and you need that.
“You need that constantly, actually. You need to play the pass with the risk to lose it. If you lose it you can win it back and then you have a gap at least for a second or so. To create a gap in a game like this you need kind of 10, 15 passes.”
Pass the ball, be patient stretching the defence and creating a gap, and then attack it quickly and decisively—and if it leads to a turnover rather than a chance, even against a low block side like Cardiff that in turn leads to chances to counter-press.
Liverpool ended the day against Cardiff’s Bluebirds with 80% of the possession and, 818 passes to Cardiff’s 207, and 19 shots to two. And despite how lopsided the game was, they still managed to create chances by counter-pressing their opponents.
“We did that in a lot of moments really well,” Klopp added. “I don’t know the percentage of possession but it should be massive as they didn’t have the ball a lot. That’s what we prepared and I’m really happy.”