Liverpool v Barcelona: Key tactics as Sadio Mane can thrive as a number nine

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Liverpool forward Sadio Mane

It’s half-time in a blockbuster Champions League fixture and Liverpool are 3-0 down.

They’ve been here before, but the task ahead for Jurgen Klopp’s side is enormous as one goal from visitors Barcelona will surely kill off any ambitions of reaching Madrid on June 1.

Without the injured Roberto Firmino, and also a concussed Mohamed Salah, Klopp has a massive dilemma in attack and that problem forms the first part of our Liverpool key tactics ahead of Tuesday’s second-leg at Anfield.

For Barcelona tactics click here

MANE AS A NINE IS FINE

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It is not hyperbole to suggest there is no other player in English football more suited to replacing Firmino than Sadio Mane.

According to whoscored.com in the four times he’s featured as a No9 this season, Mane has scored three times and added one assist.

Mane’s well-timed movement in the box to pick space between opposing centre-backs is a big feature whenever he has played centrally. Liverpool’s full-backs are so dangerous with their delivery and given Mane has scored six-headed goals this season, an aerial assault could be their route back into the tie.

He has the energy to lead a press and the trickery to unlock a defence to go alongside his penalty-box instinct.

THE MIDFIELD SHAPE

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Another big conundrum for Klopp is whether or not he opts for his signature 4-3-3 or the 4-2-3-1 shape.

In reality, he probably needs a 1-1-8. But the mindset, regardless of shape, must be attacking.

This likely hinges on the make-up of the front line. If Klopp retains the 4-3-3, then the midfield must be progressive.

Xherdan Shaqiri would likely operate in the forward three in this case, leaving a middle trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum.

If it’s 4-2-3-1, Fabinho and Henderson sit, Shaqiri is the No10 with Divock Origi and Wijnaldum out wide.

The first option seems more appealing. But neither look particularly great with Salah and Firmino out of the equation.

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