Pochettino’s tactical approach must be perfect opposite Klopp’s overwhelming Liverpool

As Divock Origi finished past Marc-Andre Ter Stegen in the Champions League semi-final second leg at Anfield, he probably could not believe his luck.

As Barcelona’s defence stood with their heads in the clouds, both he and young right-back Trent Alexander-Arnold were on their toes to propel Liverpool to their second successive Champions League final and send the Catalans crashing out.

However, what most surprised me was not the scoreline, but the nature of the game.

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At half-time Barcelona were nicely poised. Only 1-0 down and seemingly in control, it was not Klopp’s tactical approach that undone them, but his teams uncanny ability to completely overwhelm their opposition.

Suddenly, within 11 minutes of the second half, Ernesto Valverde’s men found themselves almost unthinkably level on aggregate as scenes from the Roma collapse came racing back to them, and that is where Mauricio Pochettino’s side must be wary in Madrid.

This Liverpool side can go from 0-100 in the blink of an eye as we have seen time and again under the tutelage of the German.

Sides can be cruising and comfortable, and within minutes find themselves chasing the game, and despite Tottenham’s heroics and seemingly, at times, miraculous comebacks, you would feel as though Liverpool opening with an early goal or pulling two clear would spell the end for Pochettino’s European dream, although it is not all doom and gloom for the Argentine.

The sides have met four times during the last two seasons, with Liverpool winning two, drawing one and losing the other.

What is encouraging for the Londoners, however, is that all of these games were incredibly close affairs, bar the one at Wembley this season, where the 1-2 loss flattered Spurs.

Also, on the other end of the equation, the Tottenham victory in this quartet of matches was a 4-1 triumph at Wembley in October 2017, when the Whites scored four from six shots on target and their opponents only one from seven.

The visitors also dominated possession in the game, further proving how unpredictable this fixture can be.

On the night, Pochettino is expected to line his men up in his favoured 4-2-3-1 formation. The big question mark is in regard to who exactly plays.

If declared fit, Harry Kane will more than likely lead the line. However, you must wonder would Kane be 100% match fit after being out for so long?

Instead, should he line up in a 4-3-1-2, a formation that he has tried before? Here, Son Heung-Min and semi-final hero Lucas Moura would lead the line, with Dele Alli as the most advanced midfielder and Christian Eriksen pulling the strings.

This would also allow for a low block of Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko to shield Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld when the full-backs overlap to provide width.

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Alternatively, the coach could stick to this formation, but instead use Harry Kane or Fernando Llorente as a target man, while using either one of Son or Moura to attack the space in behind the full-backs who spend the majority of their time in the opposition half.

This could in turn find Joel Matip or Virgil Van Dijk isolated against a rapidly quick forward, something which Barcelona exploited well at the Camp Nou, showing a more vulnerable side to Van Dijk’s game.

Perhaps it is written in the stars for Spurs to bring the Champions League trophy back to London for the first time since 2012, where similarly divine intervention seemed a decisive factor, with Roberto Di Matteo’s Chelsea somehow surviving a breathtaking encounter at Camp Nou, holding on for a 2-2 draw, in a game where Lionel Messi hit the upright and missed a penalty, and then limped across the line in the final against Bayern Munich, with Didier Drogba proving decisive in the penalty shootout.

And now, two of the best coaches in world football, who are often criticised for not winning enough – or any, in Pochettino’s case – trophies, will play out 90 minutes of football for the chance to win club football’s greatest title, and if this season has taught us anything, it’s to never rule out this Spurs side.

The Author

Robert Barter

18 year old lifelong football fan from Dublin, Ireland. Aspiring journalist. Twitter handle @RobertBarter16.

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