A fascinating Twitter thread has been published which breaks down how Jurgen Klopp managed to give Liverpool the psychological advantage over Thomas Tuchel’s Chelsea just before the penalty shoot-out.
Liverpool won 6-5 on penalties after Alisson saved from Mason Mount before Kostas Tsimikas converted the winning spot-kick.
It was the same outcome as February’s Carabao Cup final between the two sides. With nothing to separate the Premier League heavyweights following a goalless 120 minutes, the final was eventually decided on penalties – and the Merseyside outfit, just as they did three months ago, prevailed.
Klopp reserved praise for neuro11 – a Germany-based neuroscience company who have now helped Liverpool win back-to-back shoot-outs – in his post-match press conference.
“We work together with a company, four guys, their name is neuro11,” Klopp said of the firm, who monitor brain activity to optimise player performance, per ESPN.
“They got in contact with us two years ago, I think I was aware of it [then]. One of them is a neuroscientist and he said ‘we can train penalty shooting’ Really. And I said: ‘sounds interesting, come over.’
“German guy, we met. We worked together and this trophy is for them like the Carabao Cup was.”
How Klopp gave Liverpool the psychological edge in shoot-out
Whether neuro11 had influence on Klopp’s approach to penalties is unclear, but a superb Twitter thread from football psychologist Geir Jordet (@GeirJordet) shows the Liverpool manager deserves huge credit for perfectly controlling the situation.
Let’s take a closer look at the thread:
Jordet: “Liverpool beat Chelsea on penalties in the FA Cup final. A penalty shootout is a psychological game starting with how the manager communicates with his players after the final whistle. Klopp & Tuchel spent those 5 minutes very differently. Here are the events chronologically.”
Jordet: “At around 60 seconds after the final whistle, Klopp already has made his selection and approaches each penalty taker to tell/ask him what shot to take. He does this one-on-one and often cements his ask with his trademark HUG. The asking process is intimate, safe, and loving.”
Jordet: “At 1.30 min, Klopp is done with his rounds, the team is gathered in a huddle, and he gives a short but passionate speech. At 1.45, he finishes and the team breaks up the huddle. At 1.50 min, Tuchel is still revising his notes, and eventually making his way into the huddle.”
Jordet: “Tuchel spent the first 1-2 minutes seemingly revising his selection, and (probably) from the corner of his eye sees that Liverpool has already finished their huddle before Chelsea has even started it. He then moves to the middle of the circle BEFORE he is done with the plan.”
Jordet: “Entering the circle of players before you’ve completed the selection is what happened to Gareth Southgate in the 2021 Euros final – you’re late, not ready, become reactive, and what could have been a smooth final reminder to the team becomes erratic, rushed & stressed.”
Jordet: “In the huddle, Tuchel then asks players about the shots, publicly in front of the whole team. There’s plenty of group pressure when done in this way, the chance of honest responses from the players drops, and it creates further stress that carries on to the shootout itself.”
Jordet: “While Tuchel is still in the process of selecting and asking his players, Klopp has finished all his administrative duties and spends his time spreading warmth, love and good energy; even taking a moment to have a laugh with van Dijk.”
Jordet: “Because Liverpool finished their huddle early, they step into the mid circle first, and get to pick position. They pick the side closest to their bench, which enables staff to give further instructions during the shootout & maintains closeness to the warmth of the manager.”
Jordet’s conclusion: “Jürgen Klopp’s Monsters of mentality are not born, they’re made. Proactive preparation, composed execution, and warm/loving communication tend to give the best possible foundation for performance under extreme pressure. Liverpool was up 1-0 before the shootout had even begun.”
Absolutely fascinating stuff.
We also saw how Alisson helped his team by preventing Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy from repeating his Africa Cup of Nations final antics.
It’s the little things that can give teams the edge, particularly in finals, and Liverpool clearly left no stone unturned in their preparations ahead of winning the FA Cup for the first time since 2006.