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Pool need to change their play in Europe


Erling Braut Haaland is the type of player that Manchester United desperately need. Photo: Leon Kuegeler

Erling Braut Haaland is the type of player that Manchester United desperately need. Photo: Leon Kuegeler

Erling Braut Haaland is the type of player that Manchester United desperately need. Photo: Leon Kuegeler

Liverpool have only one way of playing.

It's worked for them so far as they are champions of Europe and about to become champions of England. But they'll need to find another way of playing if they are to get past Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.

Jurgen Klopp has always stood over the fact that he doesn't need a No. 10 because they win the ball so high up the field, the way they press makes that No. 10 role irrelevant.

But when you come up against a side like Atletico who are really rigid, who aren't afraid to play the ball long when they are in trouble, you are looking for someone like Phillippe Coutinho to open them up. And Liverpool don't have that.

They will look to the Barcelona game last year, the one they won 4-0, and hope that the high speed they play at and the atmosphere at Anfield will be enough to get them past Atletico this time.

But we have seen from Atletico before that they are the kings of time-wasting and killing the game, stopping the flow of the match when they feel the need, so it will be hard for Liverpool.

Liverpool can't play any other way. They have very good options for the system they play, in terms of players available, but they don't have someone like David Silva, or Coutinho, as I already mentioned, to slide the ball through - it's all about high intensity and hit teams as quick as you can.

Liverpool know what to expect from the second leg, so it's a case of being more efficient with the ball.

Atletico play the ball from side to side and are good at that, but if you can drag them out, play the ball quickly in between their lines, catch their players out of position, they can be got at.

To me, Atletico prefer not having the ball, so maybe Liverpool might just have to give them the ball, retreat and then try to get them on the break.

I wouldn't read too much into Liverpool being beaten, they were bound to lose at some stage and it's no disgrace to lose to a very good Atletico side.

They are a really well-organised side and if you give them the head start of an early goal, as Liverpool did the other night, it's going to be very difficult.

I'd hate to be a season ticket holder at Atletico, I wouldn't like to have to watch them every week and they don't score many goals against the lesser teams in Spain, but there is also something to admire in them.

They are effective and they can hold their own against the big teams.

Even when they are on the attack Atletico always have four or five men behind the ball. They always stay in their shape and are very hard to break down. Looking at it as a former defender, what they do is text-book

There's nothing wrong in playing to your strengths and that's what they do - why would they just allow a team who are more flamboyant than them have it all their own way?

Since Liverpool lost in midweek some people have blamed the standards in the Premier League, claimed that Liverpool are now suffering in Europe from having things too easy domestically.


I don't buy that. Liverpool's aim this season is to win the Premier League, because they won the Champions League last season and were in the final the year before something has to give somewhere down the line and maybe it's inevitable that their Champions League form drops off.

When it comes to the second leg, Liverpool know they are still in the tie, they know they can beat Altetico, but the timing is not easy as they have four Premier League games between the two legs against Atletico.

By the time the second leg comes around they could be one win from winning the league.

Liverpool have been strong in the Champions League, though. They have won the games they needed to win, that tricky game away to Salzburg where they got the job done.

They can play the four league games and then try to refocus on the Champions League and see if they can come up with a one-off performance against Atletico at Anfield.

Aside from Liverpool losing, what struck me most about the Champions League this week was seeing Erling Braut Haaland play for Borussia Dortmund.

The PSG game this week was the first time that I've seen him play in a full game and I was so impressed.

It's not just his goals, as the work he does off the ball is brilliant.

What I love about him is that when he loses the ball, he goes right away to win it back, he just wants to attack and take people on.

He looks like a real talent and the fact that Manchester United were not in the race to sign him, because they can't deal with the agent, Mino Raiola, is wrong.

United need a player like him, they need to be smarter in the transfer market and players like Haaland should not be slipping through their fingers.

What's likely to happen is that United will look to sign Haaland in two years' time when he will cost double what Dortmund paid for him.

If United keep up that policy, they will stay way, way behind.