A first leg, by definition, is all about preparing the groundwork for an upcoming fixture. However, the 2-0 victory by Liverpool at Anfield against Porto isn’t just remarkable in relation to the second leg of the Champions League in Portugal, but in relation to Liverpool’s run-in as well. Five matches from the end of a magnificent and potential title-winning Premier League season, Jurgen Klopp somehow realised a brand-new midfield system, including Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, and Fabinho.
The New Midfield of Liverpool
None of the three midfielders
However, Friday evening’s come-from-behind win against Southampton came equipped with a Keita equaliser where he burst forward to provide a goal. Then after Salah placed Liverpool in the lead, Jordan Henderson – a substitute with game-changing abilities who injected energy, tenacity, and fright – made his way to the penalty box to provide a remarkable pull-back for Roberto Firmino, sparking celebrations that gave everyone the impression that this is definitely the season for Liverpool.
Then, for the game against Porto in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinal, the midfield of Klopp didn’t come with Georginio Wijnaldum, who is the most consistent midfielder for Liverpool this season. It also didn’t feature James Milner, Adam Lallana, or Xherdan Shaqiri. This midfield had Henderson, Keita, and Fabinho that represented the high-pressure triangle of Jurgen Klopp.
During an open match with opportunities on both sides, Liverpool managed to score within 25 minutes of the game, with both Henderson and Keita vital in the two goals. The initial goal was fortunate, with the shot by Keita from the edge of the penalty box being deflected off a player to pass Iker Casillas. The 2nd goal was brilliant. Keita managed to spread the ball from left to right, allowing Henderson to slip the ball between defenders before he placed it in the back of the net.
Henderson, Keita, and Fabinho
Both Henderson and Keita were brilliant in the recent matches they have played. Henderson and Fabinho are undoubtedly the best beneficiaries for Liverpool at the moment, contributing loads of skilful and clever playing tactics to get past defenders in midfield. The most recent victory is Liverpool’s 44th game in this campaign, signalling the first time that the trio played together on the field. If this trio is used again throughout the remainder of the Premier League season and the Champions League campaign, they will have a real chance to bring home some trophies at the end.