From TheKop Curva CrossOver: RB Leipzig – Liverpool Preview

Football’s ultimate competition is upon us. The Champions League is back. Liverpool relish the glamour lights of the Champions League. It is the perfect opportunity for the 2019 Champions to lift the doom and gloom and restore pride. The swashbuckling attacking style of 2019-20 Champions League semi-finalists RB Leipzig leaves spaces for the attacking full-backs and flying speed wingers of Liverpool. However, Liverpool will need to fine-tune their midfield and shore up their defensive weaknesses to progress in the Champions League.

Failing Title Bid

The Reds’ title bid for a second consecutive Premier League is failing. Recent events have conspired against Liverpool winning a second title in 30 years. It all started with a season-ending injury to Virgil Van Dijk. The losses to Manchester City and Leicester City are nothing but a final nail in the coffin. A defeat is unavoidable but the nature of the Manchester City mauling and the collapse at Leicester confounds the notion of their inner belief and strength which was a hallmark under Jurgen Klopp. However, Liverpool players can hold the fort and prevent the season from being a disaster.

Red Crisis

Liverpool are facing a disaster. A win looks beyond them. Losses have compiled up and have put Liverpool out of the title picture. The defense is a nightmare. It has been the case ever since Virgil Van Dijk got injured. More concerning is the form of the front three, who have been inconsistent and have looked jaded. The attack seems to have lost its edge. The relocation of Jordan Henderson to the heart of the defense has also messed up the midfield. The players look shot in confidence. The once fortress Anfield has crumbled and Jurgen Klopp looks like he is emotionally breaking down. Liverpool need miracles to happen if they are to turn their season around.

Jailbreak Opportunity

The Leipzig encounter is now the only saving grace for Liverpool. It is also another opportunity to once again show the world their immense potential. However, in the Champions League, the standard of the teams are on a different level. A slight misstep or a lapse in concentration would be a knockout blow. As such, Liverpool have their work cut out. A win is long overdue but is not impossible by any means. The pressure of a title defense was too much to overcome for Liverpool. However, a change in the scenario would be perfect. The Champions League provides the ideal stage for them to dispel negativity surrounding the club at the moment.

Tactical Breakdown: RB Leipzig

Leipzig’s playing style has lots of similarities with Liverpool. Manager Julian Nagelsmann has earned the title “mini” Klopp during his time in Germany due to his man-management and deep connection, as evident in previous Hoffenheim players. High intensity, quick transitions, and vertical passing are the hallmarks of their game. Leipzig can shift between a back four or a three according to the opposition. Tactical flexibility is their “mantra.” They have players capable of operating between the lines to cause havoc in the final third of the field. Excellent pin-point deliveries from the wide areas and set pieces from the ex-Manchester City full-back Angelino are another threat. It is a well-knit team managed by a tactical maestro Nagelsmann. Moreover, the squad is well-rested and buoyant as they have rested their captain Marcel Sabitzer and highly rated center back Dayot Upamecano against their previous opponents FC Augsburg.

Tactical Breakdown: Liverpool

Heavy metal football under Klopp is in a rebuilding phase as players seem to get used to a new possession-based system. Possession is in record percentages. However, chances are created at a premium and hard to come by. The makeshift defense is facing further scrutiny after the recent defensive breakdown at Leicester. Moreover, Liverpool are missing creativity from midfield. Involving the passing forte of Thiago Alcantara into the mix is taking time and will need patience. The front three are missing their usual deadly instinct inside the penalty area. However, Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino look to have found their confidence back. Only Sadio Mane needs to find his best form to click the front three into gear.

Ones to Watch

Liverpool are in a moment where the scrutiny will be on most of their players. Every player is on the edge as their role in the squad is analyzed. Roberto Firmino is one of the chief protagonists when things go wrong at Liverpool. However, he is likely to be the deciding factor, the better he plays the better Liverpool are. Factor the opponent into the mix – being Leipzig a German team – Firmino’s ideal opposition to create a mark.

For RB Leipzig, Marcel Sabitzer is pivotal. He creates space for himself between the lines of the opposition and makes himself available for the vertical pass in the final third of the field. Moreover, the pace of Christopher Nkunku could trouble the makeshift Liverpool defense and stretch their high defensive line.

Expected Lineups

RB LEIPZIG (3-4-2-1): Gulácsi; Klostermann, Orban, Upamecano; Mukiele, Sabitzer, Kampl, Angeliño; Nkunku, Olmo; Poulsen

Out: Forsberg (knee), Laimer (knee), Szoboszlai (groin)

Doubtful: Henrichs (knee)

LIVERPOOL (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Thiago Alcántara, Wijnaldum, Jones; Salah, Firmino, Mané

Out: Origi (hamstring), Milner (hamstring), Matip (ankle), Keïta (hamstring), Jota (knee), Gomez (knee), Van Dijk (knee)

Doubtful: Fabinho (muscular), Davies (knock), Kelleher (knock)


TheKop Curva CrossOver’s Prediction

RB Leipzig – Liverpool 2-2