Liverpool have been in something of a flux in recent years from title challengers to midtable limbo.
However, rarely in the last decade have the Reds looked like they could be a real force to be reckoned with, apart from that one-off season when Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge nearly inspired the side Merseyside to a much-longed for league title in 2014.
Liverpool made it to the Europa League final on Thursday night, as the Reds defeated Villarreal 3-0 at Anfield to progress 3-1 on aggregate past the Spanish team.
The Merseysiders will now face another Spanish team in the final in Sevilla.
A Europa League triumph would give Jurgen Klopp’s team qualification to the Champions League for next season. It could be just the start of German boss Klopp turning the Merseysiders fortunes around.
A Jurgen Klopp team
Liverpool’s performances of late have been more reminiscent of a Jurgen Klopp team, with ‘Gegenpressing’ and counter-attacks key to the German’s style of play.
The Reds may not yet be playing ‘Heavy-metal’ football, as their football is more Bonjovi than Iron Maiden, but Klopp is definitely now having a major influence on the current Liverpool squad.
The current group may not be his players, but the team are showing signs of that a similar style that brought Klopp’s former-club Dortmund such success under the charismatic German boss.
A number of teams have proven in recent seasons, and especially this season, that counter-attacking football can prove just as or even more effective than possession-based football. Klopp likes his team to dominant possession, but it is not the be all and end all for the German.
He does have a certain football philosophy, but he is not a one-trick pony and is prepared to mix his tactics up when needed. Successful football teams are usually built in their manager’s image and all Klopp’s teams have had character and been exciting, a bit like the German off the pitch.
Just like life outside football, he likes things to be entertaining and the boss’s passion comes across in the team’s displays.
Still defensive issues to sort out
When talking about Klopp it is hard to avoid talking about his time at Dortmund. His successful teams were not just built on high-pressing and gung-ho football, but built from a solid defensive foundation.
The backline was always solid and the players in front of the backline would work their socks off to protect the defence. Liverpool have players capable of protecting a solid defence in the likes of James Milner, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva.
However, their defence still needs reinforcements, as there are question marks over the future of Slovakian international Martin Skrtel, who has struggled to hold down a first team place under Klopp.
First choice central defensive pair Dejan Lovren and Mamadou Sakho have looked solid at times, but a recent 30-day ban to Sakho by UEFA for an anti-doping violation may yet affect the centre-backs future with Liverpool.
Klopp has already moved to strengthen his centre-back options by agreeing a deal to bring in Schalke centre-back Joel Matip and is expected to dip into the transfer to further strengthen his backline this summer and maybe even sign a new goalkeeper.
A very early trophy
Klopp has not even been at Liverpool for a season and he could be in line to collect his first trophy as Reds boss in the Europa League. The side from Merseyside are the favourites to win the competition at odds of 6/4, but face a Sevilla side that has won the trophy in the last two seasons.
The Spanish side are unlikely to be beat easy to beat and it is not certain that Liverpool will emerge victorious. One thing that is for sure is that Liverpool are now moving in the right direction under Jurgen Klopp.
Qualification for the Champions League via winning the Europa League could just be the first step for Klopp and his team. The Reds have given the fans a glimpse of the way that Klopp wants the team to play and if the German can perfect it at Anfield, then the side from Merseyside could once again be a force to be reckoned with at home and abroad.
Can Jurgen Klopp turn Liverpool into a title challenging team for next season?
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