Jurgen Klopp watched his Liverpool team battle to a 1-1 draw against Borussia Dortmund in their Europa League quarter-final first leg.
Divock Origi gave the Reds an important away goal before Mats Hummels equalised in the second half.
Klopp was pleased with the result - a 1-1 draw means Dortmund must score at Anfield next week - but the German admitted things could have been different if he hadn’t made one tactical error.
SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
Apply to become a GMS writer by signing up and submitting a 250-word test article: https://gms.to/haveyoursay5
Hummel towered over Adam Lallana to head home Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s cross in the 48th minute and on first glance, it appeared to be a breakdown in communication that led to Dortmund’s goal.
Why would Lallana, 5ft 8in, be marking 6ft 3in Hummels?
Well, Klopp’s zonal marking scheme caused the error.
The 48-year-old revealed after the game that he placed Lallana in the position he stood. The England midfielder wasn’t at fault - he stood no chance of competing with Hummels.
Klopp told reporters after the game: “I decided to have Lallana in that position instead of Origi, so sorry about this,” per Tony Barrett of The Times.
The Liverpool boss added: “That’s a problem for us when we organise our set pieces at the end. We could have had Divock Origi but you never know,” per the Liverpool Echo.
“That’s the problem with changes in the game, it’s hectic, it is how it is, we could have blocked the cross. We could do a lot of things but at the end it’s a goal and it’s not the most important thing tonight.”
Watch Hummels' goal
Liverpool escaped without defeat but Klopp’s blunder is rather alarming. Placing Lallana in the middle of the six-yard line was unforgivable when Origi, Dejan Lovren, Mamadou Sakho or Emre Can would have all been better options.
Joel Matip and Marko Grujic, both of whom will join Liverpool in the summer, stand at 6ft 3in, so the Reds will definitely be better equipped to deal with set pieces next season.
Klopp praised Roman Weidenfeller
Fortunately, Liverpool weren’t made to pay and could have even won the game. Philippe Coutinho was denied by Roman Weidenfeller’s terrific stop and Klopp later said the Dortmund goalkeeper was “perfect”.
“In the end it was 1-1, it’s one of the results you can get when you play in Dortmund,” he added.
“I’m pretty sure that a lot of people thought we would lose two, three, maybe four nil. Of course, they had their chances and they played really good and calm in the game but we had them at some moments.
“We are not as far on our way as they are and we cannot play at this moment like them but we can defend them in most moments and we can score goals so obviously we can win.”
Liverpool might not have to win next week, though. A 0-0 draw will see them reach the final four.