Tuesday 12 December 2017

Team selection, tactics and changes: How Jurgen Klopp outsmarted Pep Guardiola

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola
Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola

Andy Hampson

Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola, two of the Premier League's elite managers, faced each other for the first time in England as Liverpool hosted Manchester City in a clash of two Premier League title contenders.

Here, we assesses their performance.


Klopp made a defensive-minded change as he brought in Emre Can to bolster midfield at the expense of striker Divock Origi. Guardiola, not surprisingly, immediately restored his top scorer Sergio Aguero to his side following a four-match ban. He also gave John Stones another opportunity at the back despite recent criticism, being dropped for two games and an injury scare.


Bringing in Can proved effective as it helped nullify the creative threat of the likes of David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne and Aguero. It also meant Roberto Firmino was moved back into the centre forward position and that too was a success, with the Brazilian troubling Stones and Nicolas Otamendi with his movement. City failed to get a grip on the game in midfield with Yaya Toure and Fernandinho overrun by Can, Georginio Wijnaldum and Jordan Henderson. Their forwards were starved of service and City could not assert themselves.


It was a surprise Guardiola did not make any discernible change of approach at half-time, given that his side were largely outplayed for the first 45 minutes. City did come back into the game, and Liverpool were forced to rely on counter-attacks after losing Henderson just after the hour, but Guardiola did not make a substitution until sending on Jesus Navas the 86th minute. That prompted a change of shape to a three-man defence and Kelechi Iheanacho also entered in the closing moments, but it proved to no avail.


Klopp masterminded a notable victory with Guardiola unable to counter the German's planning. City were flat for most of the game and were unable to impose themselves, aside from one good spell early in the second half. City have lost the zip with which they played earlier in the campaign and questions will be asked of Guardiola. For Klopp, this was a significant statement.

Press Association

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