Why Thiago Alcantara is a ‘Plan B’ for Liverpool despite impressive debut


Thiago Alcantara may have blown Liverpool fans away with just 45 minutes of action – but he may have been brought in as a “Plan B” for Jurgen Klopp.

The Spaniard arrived from Bayern Munich this summer for £20m, making his debut two days later in a 2-0 win against Chelsea.

Coming on as a 45th-minute substitute, one half of football was all the 29-year-old needed to break a Premier League record.

Jurgen Klopp will be without Thiago for the next two games, though, after he tested positive for Covid-19 and entered self-isolation.

It has seen the German earn praise for bringing a midfielder with title-winning experience in to shake up his midfield.

Liverpool's new midfielder Thiago Alcantara may be seen as a 'plan B' by Jurgen Klopp
Liverpool’s new midfielder Thiago Alcantara may be seen as a ‘plan B’ by Jurgen Klopp

Thiago Alcantara blew fans away on his Liverpool debut – but he came close to signing for rivals Arsenal

Liverpool are keen to repeat last season’s success – and you don’t want to miss a thing, surely?

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Liverpool got their title defence off to a shaky start as they edged out a seven-goal thriller against Leeds.

In terms of transfers the Reds have completed the signing of Thiago Alcantara and Wolves’ Diogo Jota has arrived too, in a shock deal worth a potential £45million.

Youngster Ki-Jana Hoever is set to head to Wolves in a £10million deal, while Gini Wijnaldum continues to be linked with Barcelona. There’s a lot to keep track of.

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But analysis of Liverpool ’s playing system suggests that the midfielder is seen by the manager as a “plan B” for his “gegenpress”.

YouTube channel Tifo Football explained how Klopp now uses a 4-3-3 where full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are the “primary creators” and the midfielders acting as “spare men” in build up.

This formation has seen the wide defenders make their team’s top five for “Goal Creating Actions”, the last two actions before a goal.

The narrator says: “Part of the rationale for acquiring Thiago is that Liverpool would benefit from a Plan B, a midfielder who was less functional and more adept at playing the kind of line-breaking passes that open teams up.

The Spaniard offers the Reds an alternative to their midfield options with his ability to 'bypass the high press', taking the ball under pressure before passing it long
The Spaniard offers the Reds an alternative to their midfield options with his ability to ‘bypass the high press’, taking the ball under pressure before passing it long

“And Thiago can do this. He excels at sweeping passes that open up the flanks, change the direction of the attack though disguised passes and penetrate opposition lines.

“He is also a strong defensive presence. This is why he was so integral to Pep Guardiola’s vision for Bayern – he needed someone in a pivot role to anticipate opposition attacks and turn defence into attack.”

The video goes on to state that Thiago’s arrival will allow Liverpool to do two things better this season.

And Jurgen Klopp could see the 29-year-old as a midfielder who is 'less functional and more adept at playing line-breaking passes to open teams up', compared to the usual role of midfielders acting as 'spare men' to facilitate attack on the wings
And Jurgen Klopp could see the 29-year-old as a midfielder who is ‘less functional and more adept at playing line-breaking passes to open teams up’, compared to the usual role of midfielders acting as ‘spare men’ to facilitate attack on the wings

One is “bypassing the high press” as the midfielder took the ball under pressure more than any Bayern player last year while still completing 89.6 per-cent of his passes.

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While this ability to take the ball under pressure will allow him to play the ball through the press, allowing Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to attack more.

It comes as Thiago sent a message to Reds fans after news of his Covid-19 test emerged.

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