Jurgen Klopp must instruct Fabinho to narrow the space in between the lines of midfield and defence against Bayern Munich, or he risks allowing the Bavarians’ silkiest player to work their magic in dangerous areas.
Niko Kovac’s side have a number of players who can sneak in behind the midfield and threaten the backline with their vision and technical ability. The likes of Thiago Alcantara, Serge Gnabry and James Rodriguez are all fearsome opponents in and around that No.10 position, but it is the former who must be watched closely.
Thiago, formerly of Barcelona, enjoys tearing English opposition apart at the Allianz Arena as Arsenal fans will know all too well – the Spaniard scored a seven-minute double against the Gunners in 2017.
The 27-year-old is a crafty player who can find gaps in almost any defence and exploit them effectively, and the Reds must set up so that he cannot do to them what he did to Arsenal.
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The former Borussia Dortmund boss doesn’t necessarily need to sit back when he takes his side to the Allianz Arena, but he does need to restrict Bayern’s space in vital areas.
Klopp should set his side up similar to the way to which Mauricio Pochettino did at Tottenham when Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were their marauding full-backs in the 2015/16 season.
Spurs would play Eric Dier in two positions almost, sitting in between Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld when the aforementioned full-back duo went forward, but he stepped back into midfield when his side were out of possession.
Fabinho must slightly mimic the role that Dier played. When in possession, both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold like to bomb forward – the latter almost assisted the former for a goal last time out against Burnley.
When that happens, the Brazilian must sit in alongside Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip, but when Bayern are in possession, he shouldn’t stray too far away from the centre-backs.
Thiago lacks pace, so he shouldn’t find much joy out wide or by running in behind the defence – if Fabinho can stay focused, one of Bayern’s major threats should be nullified effectively.