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MARTIN KEOWN: Forward thinking is the key for Liverpool in Munich

Forward thinking is the key for Liverpool in Munich… they missed Virgil van Dijk’s positivity from the back in first leg against Bayern

  • Everyone thought the absence of Virgil van Dijk would cost Liverpool defensively
  • But makeshift centre-half pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho kept a clean sheet
  • What Liverpool missed in their draw with Bayern was Van Dijk’s forward thinking 
  • Matip, in particular, panicked in possession, frequently passing back to Alisson 

Everyone thought the absence of Virgil van Dijk would cost Liverpool defensively. While the makeshift centre-half pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho kept a clean sheet — no mean feat against Bayern Munich — they missed the Dutchman’s forward thinking.

Positivity from the centre backs is crucial to the way Jurgen Klopp’s team play. Van Dijk and Joe Gomez — Liverpool’s first-choice pairing — are usually effortless in possession. They are always looking to play forwards to give the platform to build their attacks.

That was not always the case on Tuesday night. Matip, in particular, panicked in possession. His most frequent pass in the first half was back to Alisson, finding his goalkeeper eight times. It prevented Liverpool from getting on the front foot and striking an early blow.

Everyone thought the absence of Virgil van Dijk would cost Liverpool defensively on Tuesday 

However the makeshift centre-half pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho kept a clean sheet

However the makeshift centre-half pairing of Joel Matip and Fabinho kept a clean sheet

What Liverpool missed in their 0-0 draw with Bayern was the Dutchman's forward thinking

What Liverpool missed in their 0-0 draw with Bayern was the Dutchman’s forward thinking

Bayern may not be the force they once were but they still carry the aura of champions. They were able to grow in confidence throughout the match and their forwards quickly started to anticipate that Matip would keep going backwards.

When I was playing in defence for Arsenal nothing made Arsene Wenger more angry than when we passed back to David Seaman.

Go forward and the opposition are deterred from pressing your goalkeeper. Go back and you only invite them on.

Matip, in particular, panicked in possession. His most frequent pass was back to Alisson

Matip, in particular, panicked in possession. His most frequent pass was back to Alisson

It was understandable that Matip should be nervous on such a huge occasion but sometimes, the biggest mistake you can make is to be afraid to make one.

Alisson saw plenty of the ball in those early stages but the time he dwelt on it was criminal. That put his team-mates under pressure, too.

Van Dijk will return for next month’s second leg in Munich. Liverpool will need his attacking impetus as much as his Rolls-Royce defending. 



Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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