Liverpool played out an intense and hectic 0-0 draw with Bayern Munich on Tuesday night, and it may just have been a breakout performance for Naby Keita.
Liverpool fans were expecting big things from Keita this season, and it’s more than fair to say the Guinean international was the summer signing fans were most excited about, perhaps due to the fact that they had to wait a year to see him in a red shirt.
However, the 24 year-old failed to settle in the first half of the season, picking up a hamstring injury and never really getting up to full speed.
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The other three summer signings have all made huge impacts for the Reds, and Keita finally looks set to follow suit after Tuesday’s showing.
The Reds were on the back foot quite a lot in the first half, as the absence of Virgil van Dijk clearly affected the confidence and swagger of the side.
That said, it was Jurgen Klopp’s side who had the best chances, with Sadio Mane in particular missing a golden opportunity to net the game’s only goal, dragging the ball wide after collecting Keita’s deflected shot.
The Guinean international was absolutely everywhere in the first half, forming a perfect balance in midfield with Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.
While the aforementioned duo mopped up loose balls and carried out the dirty work, Keita was given license to dribble forward and create chances, and he did this to perfection, completing four dribbles and one key pass.
He fired in three shots, two of which were blocked, and also attempted an audacious bicycle kick from about 20 yards out, indicating confidence is certainly not an issue.
Bayern Munich paid Liverpool the ultimate compliment in the second half, sitting back and soaking up pressure, rarely sending more than three of four players into the Liverpool half.
This limited Keita’s attacking influence, but together with Wijnaldum and Henderson he ensured the visitors could not launch counter attacks, making three tackles and winning three aerial duels.
Xherdan Shaqiri, Alisson Becker and Fabinho have all enjoyed breakout performances that triggered an extended run of form, so could be this Keita’s turn?