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Dealing with Liverpool’s build-up structure is a challenge worthy of a Champions League final

Breaking down Liverpool’s primary build-up tendencies all the way from Alisson, through the full-backs to their forwards.

Liverpool Training and Press Conference Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images

The challenge of facing Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool has been the biggest one Carlo Ancelotti’s Real Madrid could face in the Italian’s second term so far. Liverpool is a complex team to deal with if you are defending against them. The intensity, the cohesion, and the quality of their build-up have proven to be too good for most opponents this season.

Liverpool’s build-up begins even before touching the ball. Their counter-pressing to win the ball immediately back after losing it is where it all begins. In terms of sheer volume, Real Madrid and Liverpool are among the most pressing sides of this Champions League season. Real Madrid slightly edges Liverpool in overall pressing sequence numbers but Liverpool edges Real Madrid in pressing efficiency.

Liverpool’s pressing is way more organized and way more well-rehearsed than Madrid’s. Klopp’s men press high and wide into the opponent’s half and recover the ball well within their own half, shielding the two wings. They allow some relative breathing room in the mid-third which can make this game extremely interesting. 

Only Manuel Neuer has a better long ball completion rate than Alisson Becker in this season’s Champions League. Even with short or medium distance passing, Alisson is a reliable figure.

Both Ibrahima Konate and Virjil van Dijk are very comfortable on the ball and capable of progressing the ball to Liverpool’s most potent attacking areas of the final third with efficiency and high volume. This gives Liverpool some great on-the-ball options in almost every part of the pitch and every phase of their build-up.

Liverpool probably has the most cohesive and dominant fullback duo in the world in Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold. Both of them are attacking menaces down the two flanks. Both are great ball carriers and intelligent with their passing. Robertson and Trent are capable of creating trouble from slightly deeper positions compared to their counterparts in other teams who would probably rely on creating danger by going much deeper into the opponent’s half.

Finally, Liverpool’s offensive juggernaut in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Luis Diaz.

These three forwards' contrasting yet complimenting profiles can make life really difficult for the opponent’s backline. While Salah mainly operates from the right flank, the interchangeability of roles and positions between Mane and Diaz could be a reason for a real headache.

All eyes are on Paris now.

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