By Connor Varnish – @cvarn4
Jurgen Klopp or his squad won’t mention anything about feeling the pressure of being in a title race this late in the season, but there undoubtedly has to be some sort of burdening effect considering Liverpool’s recent history notably lacks domestic titles.
The glaringly cold, hard truth is Liverpool haven’t won enough trophies in recent history, and Liverpool supporters are desperate for that drought to come to an end.
This squad carries the weight of the demand to perform week in week out domestically to set the pace for the Premier League title –this certainly must have some strenuous effects on Liverpool’s squad somewhere.
Liverpool’s next fixture is something completely different, yet something so familiar to both Jurgen Klopp’s team and the Liverpool fans. On Tuesday, The Reds will travel to Germany for a Champions League night at the Allianz Arena as they square off against perennial Bundesliga giants, Bayern Munich.
While Bayern will certainly pose a threat to the Reds, it feels like a perfect time to cast aside the pressures of a title challenge for the moment and move forward in Europe with the freedom of Jurgen Klopp’s archetypal free flowing football.
We all remember Liverpool’s incredible run in the knockout rounds of the Champions League last season – Porto, Man City, Roma – all handled with relative ease via a display of Klopp’s patented heavy metal football.
Which leads nicely to my point – there should be minimal pressure on Liverpool against Bayern, and beyond, should Liverpool progress in Europe. We all want the league, but don’t think for a second that we’re not also dreaming of a sixth European Cup.
Liverpool have an excellent opportunity to express themselves with a play style that that they may not be able to risk domestically. I expect the high press to be in full motion as the Reds look to pressure Bayern’s ageing group into mistakes in dangerous areas high up the pitch.
While Liverpool’s centre back situation is far from ideal in the first leg with Virgil van Dijk out, I look forward to the prospect of more consistent bombing runs from the full-backs in Trent and Robbo as they look to prioritise the counter as they aid with the high press and turn opposing possession into scoring chances.
Regardless of the specifics of Klopp’s tactical setup against Bayern, this Liverpool side are built for European competitions. We made it to the final last year playing as if we had nothing to lose, and we’ve only strengthened our side since.
This is the exact attitude we must adopt as we move forward in the Champions League. Teams in the Champions League, especially at this stage, cannot afford to sit back and defend deep against this Liverpool side.
Bayern are a huge club – their fans will expect them to attack us (that doesn’t bode well for most sides that choose to deploy that strategy against the Reds) – Enter Jurgen’s heavy metal, high pressing, counter attacking football.
Now is a perfect time to simply go for it in a competition free from the pressures of a domestic title.
The latter stages of the Champions League ought to signal a return to Klopp’s knockout style football we saw last year that urges the Reds to embrace the freedom associated with the heavy metal philosophy that, just last year, came so close to delivering a sixth European title back to Anfield.