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Shapeshifting Salah offers Liverpool fresh attacking dimension

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Tactical Analysis: How Jurgen Klopp’s Shapeshifting Mohamed Salah offers Liverpool fresh attacking dimension as Liverpool evolution begins again

People don’t know that Salah’s role has changed for a while now, he is no longer an inside forward. He is basically playing the same role as the likes of Mahrez and co where you are responsible for receiving wide when the ball comes to your side and trying to create something.

When the ball is on the left-hand side, he collapses into the box, becoming an instant poacher with great off-ball movement. Just like the striker role, the modern winger is expected to be the complete package. 1-on-1 ability with the ball, a poacher’s movement without it.

MUST READ: Tactical Analysis: The Secrets of Dominance in football

Salah is one of the inside runners for the long ball punts (after which if it fails, the whole team immediately pushes up to squeeze space and press the opponent who are not in the right mental state to successfully engage because they just ran hard some 30 metres backwards against speedy, hungry bastards).

Trent Alexandre Arnold still receives wide and Salah comes in, usually after the ball is worked on the left and switched to the right (which is to ensure Salah is in the right position and distance to attack the box were the ball to come through on the left; but also to give Trent Alexandre Arnold the space and separation to create from a marker who usually has to shuffle over after the switch: which must be a high quality one).


Of course, to support Salah out wide, somebody has to be in right half space Salah would normally be in. That is either a false 9, the right centre midfielder or Trent Alexandre Arnold running into that narrow seam from deep. Overall the dynamics are not new in any sense. Pep’s Man City has been using these dynamics since 2017. First was the possession orientation: the slowing down of Liverpool’s game.

The switch to more fluid buildup and rest defence shapes/structures and now the extremely fluid positional play – the Cityfication of Liverpool continues with each season bringing more blooms. Klopp has improved Liverpool by making them play more like Man City with better pressing or aggressiveness.

These are also the same dynamics Arsenal have used to improve their creative and pressing game. The same dynamics can also be found at Bayern Munich. More and more, all the top teams look similar than ever. The question, then, has to be asked: who got here first?

The answer is one and clear: Pep Guardiola. His formula is an essential part of the blueprint for success at the top of the modern game. His contribution lives on in the heart of rivals and lovers alike.

The biggest difference between Pep and Klopp is positional play. Pep’s principles are too dynamic but very easy to exploit as an opponent manager who values pacy attackers, when it’s your day of course.

Klopp does not use JDP (Juego de Posicion) patterns in the buildup, nor anywhere. Players are not spaced out evenly in 5 horizontal zones. He has Trent coming in a 10 at Number 10 in phase two. Liverpool are very much an anti-positional play team in many ways.

Do you understand whatJDP is?

READ: What is Juego de Posicion (JDP) in football?

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