The tactical approach that fired Liverpool to the UCL semis

Champions League By: Uche Duru | 11/04/2018

Liverpool have been away from the semi-finals scene of the UEFA Champions League since 2008 but the Reds broke the jinx on Tuesday after beating Manchester City 2-1 at Etihad.

The Kops had earlier ran 3-0 goal riots on their visitors, Manchester City in the first leg of the quarter-finals at Anfield and finally held their lead with two away goals in a resounding 5-1 victory in aggregate.

Prior to the game, Liverpool were seen as the underdogs by pundits and fans considering the growing rate of their key players who were rested due to injury. But 90 mins at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday left a tale that shocked the entire football world.

Liverpool introduced themselves with a defensive approach in the first half of the encounter which gave the home team, Manchester City their first goal. The Kops tried to defend their early lead at their own expense giving City the room to attack and own the entire midfield which they on their own part failed to utilize as their were a plethora of missed chances from the from Pep Guardiola's men in the first 45-minutes.

Liverpool's approach and that of Barcelona were similar until Klopp's half-time message practically ushered in the difference. Barcelona also played to defend their lead which didn't end well; they failed woefully. What this means is that it is risky to play a more defensive game in modern football where teams have penchants for scoring goals in abundance.

Klopp's half-time amendments on the team were heavily felt in the second half of the game as Liverpool who were also one goal down at half-time just like Barcelona, overturned a 1-0 scoreline to 2-1 away from home at Etihad. The German manager re-introduced his heavy-metal approach in the remaining half of the game which saw Liverpool outplay star-studded Manchester City. Liverpool controlled the goal with the second-half approach until they sought and registered the killer away goals which sealed the deal for them. The two away goals fired Liverpool to the Champions League semi-finals; a level they have failed to attain since 2008.

Pundits earlier, before the game, put their weight and faith in Manchester City. They believed the Premier League table toppers could overturn an early 3-0 goal deficit and beat Liverpool at the end of the game but that didn't come as close. Liverpool emerged victors with a high 5-1 win on aggregate.

In a manner of speaking, Gabriel Jesus' first-half goal for Manchester City was not legit. Considering the build-up that birthed the goal, Raheem Sterling sent Virgil Van Dijk flying off the field before assisting the Brazillian with his first goal of the night just two minutes into the game. Though the £70 million Liverpool defender protested for a foul, it was waved away by Spanish referree, Antonio Mateu Lahoz.

Therefore, Sane's disallowed first-half goal sort of evened out - One was wrong but was allowed and the other was right but was flagged down.

Liverpool's approach against Manchester City in the Champions League shows they are a team with sheer experience and understanding as acknowledged by Jurgen Klopp in his post match conference, "We are still in a development phase but already a good team. The boys found a solution."

Indeed, the boys did found a befitting solution!
1