Throughout his time at Anfield, Jürgen Klopp has favored a specific defensive approach that always consists of a number of crucial characteristics. The German coach is used to counter-pressing when he loses the ball – and has been since his days as a promising coach some two decades ago – and he also believes in a zonal approach to defending.
In addition to these fundamentals, the Reds boss has also used an offside trap as an important part of his identity on the pitch. His belief in the concept of catching opponents offside stems from his time watching Arrigo Sacchi’s famed AC Milan team many years ago, with Klopp appreciating how the trick was executed by a united and disciplined line of defence.
Indeed, Pep Lijnders, Klopp’s assistant, has spoken of the link with the Italian team in the past. “This Liverpool team is definitely inspired by Sacchi’s Milan,” he said via ECHO. “Jürgen has said before that many of the foundations of his philosophy were based on the principles of the Milan coach. There are so many elements that touched both of us. First, the emphasis on the offside trap.”
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Liverpool’s daring offside trap has become increasingly important in recent years. In 2021/22, for example, no team in Europe’s top five leagues caught more opponents offside than Liverpool with 144, ahead of second-placed Sassuolo with 142, followed by Real Betis with 129.
Once properly introduced to top-flight football in 2019, VAR pretty much guaranteed correct refereeing decisions to some degree and it made more sense than ever for Liverpool to fully embrace the risks of their proactive defensive idea, as any opponent who is marginally offside had drifted. would be emphasized by the new technology.
Over the years, numerous opponents have tried to exploit Klopp’s daring offside trap by making timed attacking runs. Some have succeeded and just found it, but the vast majority have failed, with the Reds facing a wide variety of different tricks from opponents in recent times.
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Despite Liverpool’s commitment to Klopp’s offside trap, FIFA could be about to throw a real curveball into the mix by introducing a new concept in the near future. The fine details and rules of the game are constantly changing, but based on what lies ahead, the Reds may be forced into a tactical rethink.
According to DirectTVSports, the governing body of the Football Association is going to try out a new offside rule. The report suggests that with the change made an attacking player is only marked offside if the attacker’s entire body is outside the entire defensive line.
At the moment, players in the Premier League are being flagged for offside on the basis of very marginal calls. If an attacker’s foot is offside but his head is not when the pass is made, the defending team tends to make the decision. If FIFA does indeed adopt the new approach across the sport in the coming years, Klopp may need to weigh up the usefulness of his time-tested approach.
The change will be enforced in Sweden to begin with, in the men’s under-21 and women’s under-19 competitions. The shift will also be tested in Italy and the Netherlands, while FIFA explores the initiative before its final implementation. When VAR was introduced, Liverpool got a head start on the pitch, but if the next change gets the green light, the opposite could happen on Merseyside.
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