It’s one blow after another for Liverpool over the past couple of days.
The Champions League semi-finalists were dealt a major blow to their Premier League top-four chances this weekend after being halted to a goalless draw against Stoke City on Saturday. Jurgen Klopp refused to shake Andre Marriner’s hand after the referee failed to reward a penalty after Georginio Wijnaldum’s cross hit Erik Pieter’s arm just yards from goal, as a disappointing stalemate left Liverpool in a limbo over their top-four chances.
The Reds are sitting in third place at the moment with a four-point advantage in front of Tottenham in fourth. Spurs have no less than two games in hand and could easily surpass Liverpool. The fifth-placed Chelsea are ready to launch a late top four bid with a game in hand against Klopp’s men and it appears that the next weekend’s clash at Stamford Bridge could be the season-defining match for both Chelsea and Liverpool.
The visitors are given 5/2 betting odds to triumph in London but will first have a huge obstacle to overcome during the week.
The Reds travel to Rome for the second leg of their semi-final Champions League tie against AS Roma. The Merseyside is carrying a healthy 5-2 lead to Italy but will be vary of the Giallorossi who have already recovered from the same deficit in the previous round to sensationally throw Barcelona out of the competition.
With plenty of pressure loaded on their shoulders, Liverpool could not have picked a worst moment to hit the headlines this morning when it was speculated that Jurgen Klopp’s faithful lieutenant quit the club after a fallout with the Liverpool manager.
It’s a serious disruption Liverpool wish could have been avoided at a crucial time of the season and the question looms of whether the Reds will be able to muster the mental strength to overcome all difficulties and cross the finish line of the 2017/18 season with their hands lifted high in the air in triumph.
Described as ‘the brain’ behind Jurgen Klopp’s coaching set-up by the German genius himself, the Bosnian Serb Zeljko Buvac met Klopp during their playing time at Mainz, where they formed a gentleman’s agreement that whoever was first to become a manager would take the other one as his assistant.
The 56-year-old Buvac has been Klopp’s right-hand for long 17 years through Mainz, Borussia Dortmund and now Liverpool which is why the announcement of him leaving the Reds managerial team for ‘personal reasons’ at a single most important moment of the season is raising plenty of eyebrows.
Liverpool have dismissed previous reports that Buvac quit Anfield after a bust-up with Jurgen Klopp, claiming that he remains a Liverpool employee but confirming that he will be absent for the remainder of the campaign.
Jurgen Klopp now heads into the AS Roma replay without his ‘brain’ and with only his ‘eyes’ Peter Krawietz, a first team coach, by his side preparing for the trip to Italy. Widely perceived as a man who had had an equal share in architecting Borussia Dortmund’s heavy-metal style of football, Zeljko Buvac is the man is the man who keeps temperamental Jurgen Klopp grounded.
The pair were said to be enjoying a telepathic relationship and it will be extremely interesting to see how the German fares without a man Nuri Sahin described as Klopp’s twin back in September 2013 when Jurgen was hit with a touchline ban.
“Both of them see football in exactly the same way.”, Sahin said.
Jurgen Klopp and Zeljko Buvac have had their fair share of bust-ups in the past as well but would always settle their differences and emerge stronger than ever. This piece of information offers little solace to Liverpool fans who are cursing the timing of such a needless conundrum.
Will Liverpool’s finish of the season suffer after this sudden decision from Zeljko Buvac to “spend some time away from the first team environment” until the end of the season?
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