Liverpool continued their road to Istanbul with another 2-0 victory over RB Leipzig with the Champions League tie finishing 4-0 across two legs.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mané were on the scoresheet in Budapest after netting in the 70th and 74th minute as the Reds returned to their energetic pressing style of play.
It was the first game, in what seems an age, where Jürgen Klopp’s men looked like they could create chances at will. They were pressing high and fast, winning the ball in the opposition’s half to allow quick counter-attacks against the German side creating a plethora of opportunities in the game.
Fabinho’s reintroduction into the middle of the park was a key factor in the dominant performance. It was the first time the Brazilian featured in the midfield of the Premier League champions since October and his performance highlighted how much the Reds had missed a ball-winner anchoring the defence.
The No.3 was excellent defensively winning all three tackles attempted, completing 12 ball recoveries, clearing the ball from danger twice as well as winning four interceptions for his side.
It was a complete performance from the former AS Monaco man in his preferred No.6 position.
The defensive midfielder wasn’t the only man in contention for the man of the match award, with the likes of Thiago Alcântara and Nat Phillips also putting in impressive performances.
However, it wasn’t just the 27-year-old’s on-field actions that contributed to him earning the award. His involvement in the side allowed for Thiago to play a more influential role within the attack, which saw the Spaniard put on one of his finer performances in a Liverpool jersey.
If there is only one main takeaway from Wednesday night’s game it is that, unless there are no other options available, Fabinho may not need to be used in the centre of defence for the remainder of the season. His role in the middle is pivotal to this side’s identity.
Since the turn of the New Year, Klopp’s side has looked slow and passive going forward while simultaneously remaining defensively vulnerable to counters. The lack of pace in Liverpool’s attacking moves has allowed their opponents to drop deeper quicker, organise their defensive structure as well as occupy the spaces that this side often look to penetrate.Embed from Getty Images
The £40m midfielder is a solution to all these problems. He wins the ball high up the pitch, and then he releases the ball quickly and with pace. He also has excellent positional awareness, a trait that perhaps led to him becoming a central defensive option when needed.
Liverpool next travel away to Wolves on Monday night where hopefully Fabinho retains in spot in the Reds’ midfield, as they look to recover some form and fight for a top four spot in the Premier League.
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