What we learned from Liverpool's 5-0 demolition of FC Porto
The Reds trounced their Portuguese opponents in sublime fashion as they scored 5 goals without a reply. Porto were anticipated to be a potential banana skin in Liverpool's route towards a sixth European crown, however it all panned out quite differently on the pitch.
Aside the first 10 minutes, Jurgen Klopp's men were hardly troubled on the night with Liverpool's magnificent front three proving too much for the Primiera Liga leaders. Water was wet and in other news Mohammed Salah scored for Liverpool. Firmino was at his usual crafty best getting on the scoresheet and Sadio Mane scored a European hat-trick. Let's take a look at a few minuscule but telling observations from the game.
1. Loris Karius and Virgil Van Dijk might be the most important partnership at Liverpool
Come here mate. I love you
Forget Liverpool's attacking trio, Van Dijk looks to be slowly settling into the leader fans expected him to be for Liverpool. Against Southampton he was an imposing presence and once again bossed proceedings against Porto.
This has allowed Loris Karius to express himself more freely and take up an advanced position in the Red's penalty area. The German has been criticized for being too timid in dominating the penalty box and while he still has a long way to go in becoming a regular between the sticks for LFC fans, Thursday night was yet another fruitful display by Karius.
2. The 'Boring' Midfield
The duo don't get the plaudits they deserve
Liverpool deployed a three man midfield of James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum. None of the triad seems to be an eye-catching player entrusted with breaking down the opposition. Yet Jurgen Klopp's men won the midfield battle comfortably, carving out their opponents at will.
The shift in focus from his midfield to attack has been the highlight of Jurgen Klopp's reign so far. His men in center of the park are not the greatest technical merchants on the ball, however are full of running and press their opponents into submission.
Against Porto each had specific role which they played to perfection. Henderson dropped deep allowing fullbacks to provide width while Milner and Wijnaldum harried the ball carriers. Sir Alex Ferguson managed to beat Arsenal 8-2 with a midfield of Tom Cleverly and Anderson by shifting all the focus to his attacking units and Jurgen Klopp seems to be following the same pattern especially after the sale of Coutinho.
3. The counter-attacking just keeps getting better
Liverpool's third of the night
Back to what we already know- Liverpool are devastating on the counter. The pace of Salah and Mane is too much for any defence in the world, even Hector Bellerin would admit that and FC Porto are latest their latest victims.
Liverpool's third goal was a symphony of direct football. From Firmino's flick to Salah's run it embodied why any team would fear to come up against them. Forget Mane's hat-trick or his recent slump, he is an integral part of the line-up and is the reason why they are so unpredictable going forward.
4. The 4-3-1-2 formation?
Liverpool are lot different than what they are on paper — by Aishwarya Raj Pandey
Team news from Estadio Dragao had Liverpool lining up as 4-3-3. Nothing unusual or extra-ordinary about that. But on close inspection, that is hardly the line-up Liverpool actually deploy.
In the above picture, you can see Bobby Firmino dropping deep and Salah and Mane taking up central positions. This is Liverpool in their full attacking mode. The genius movement of Firmino opens up space for Salah and before the opposition can recover Liverpool have 5 players steaming towards the opposition goal.
It is a subtle change that has come into existence since their defeat to Swansea where the Welsh side forced their wingers to stay wide and prevent any space between midfield and defence.