Liverpool midfielder Fabinho has said that he “wasn’t so worried” about facing Manchester City’s Erling Haaland last weekend.
What’s the word?
The Norwegian powerhouse had bagged a staggering 20 goals in 13 appearances for Man City before facing the Reds, so his threat level heading into the match was pretty staggering to say the least.
Despite that frightening goal return, though, Fabinho wasn’t so worried about coming up against the 22-year-old as he had other players in Pep Guardiola’s line-up to occupy his attention instead.
“I was trying to close the spaces between the lines, then they do the movements very well, so they pass on the back of the fullbacks very well.”
The Reliable Fabinho
Acting as a defensive metronome for Liverpool, the Brazil international goes about his business without a modicum of fuss and carries out a hugely important role for Jurgen Klopp’s side, often acting as a single pivot in the 4-3-3 system.
However, amidst a system change as of late, Fabinho has been able to demonstrate his versatility in the middle of the park, playing in a double-pivot as seen in the 1-0 win against Manchester City in which he made three recoveries, sharing this tally with Thiago Alcantara, who partnered him in midfield.
This number of ball recoveries is testament to the way in which Guardiola’s side played, trying to spread the game as efficiently as possible through the use of asymmetrical full-back positioning, which saw Joao Cancelo essentially operate as a secondary winger at times.
Whilst Fabinho made his presence known in midfield, working hard to maintain his position off the ball, it actually sees him fall short of his usually emphatic average of 12.18 ball recoveries per game. That is demonstrative of his sheer impact and selfless nature for Liverpool, acting as an enabler in possession by closing gaps in the central areas so that the wide players can shine.
In regards to Haaland, Fabinho was so busy trying to deal with other City players that he barely thought about the Norwegian.
Klopp’s tactics managed to stifle the Norwegian centre-forward, with players like Fabinho playing a crucial part off the ball to achieve a much-needed clean sheet for the Reds.