Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp is beloved for his bear hugs and fist pumps, but something he did as part of the Reds’ pre-Madrid preparations has revealed just how meticulous he really is.
Liverpool got their just rewards for a phenomenal season this weekend, beating Spurs 2-0 in Madrid courtesy of goals from Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi.
It was a scrappy affair though, a far cry from the rip-roaring performances of the early Klopp days, and many pundits and fans alike were disappointed with the lack of fluidity in the match.
However, it now appears as though that was part of Klopp’s master plan all along, as Benfica B manager Renato Paiva revealed they practiced against the Reds before the game, leading to the German taking a more pragmatic approach.
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Speaking to A Bola, translated by Tiago Estevao, Paiva revealed that his Benfica B side had been hand-picked by Klopp and assistant Pepijn Lijnders because their style matched Tottenham’s.
The Portuguese outfit were asked to replicate Spurs’ shape and systems, both in attacking and defensive set-ups, even going so far as to pick out specific players to play the parts of Harry Kane, Dele Alli and the rest of the north Londoners’ danger men.
They then allowed the Reds to practice different ways of tweaking and adjusting their pressing to stifle Spurs, something which was evident in the match as the midfield trio spent most of the game camped centrally in front of the back four, which is not how they usually play.
The A Bola article even claims that Paiva’s side were picked because they would not share the information, while English teams would leak the news, French teams may pass word along to Hugo Lloris and La Liga teams the same for Mauricio Pochettino.
Klopp is often mocked by rivals fans for being all about passion, man-management and fist pumps, too stubborn to gain the true tactical awareness and versatility required to win major trophies.
As it turns out though, the lengths he went to in the weeks building up to the final are truly mind-blowing, and parts of it sound like something out of a James Bond movie, sneakily plotting friendlies with an off-the-radar team.
The German won Liverpool’s sixth European title through meticulous preparation, adjustments and tactical fluidity, perhaps with a couple of bear hugs mixed in for good measure too.