Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp was one of the most successful teams in the club’s history and it was largely due to Klopp’s use of Gengenpressing. Gengenpressing is where a team presses the ball carriers of the opposition high up the field in their own end and look to regain possession and, in as little passes as possible, get the ball into the back of the net. Gengenpressing comes at the price of your possession stats and the stamina of your players but if done to perfection is pure deadly.
Let’s take a look at Liverpool’s game against Manchester City at the Etihad where they won 4-1. Manchester City had 62.6% of the possession while Liverpool had 37.4%. Manchester City had 340 passes whilst Liverpool had 211. Liverpool had 14 tackles (8 in offensive half) compared to Manchester City’s 5. [These were the first half stats]. Liverpool’s starting XI outfield players averaged 12.7 miles covered compared to Manchester City’s 11.4. Philippe Coutinho alone average speed was 10% higher than Manchester City’s starting XI.
Liverpool under Jurgen Klopp has been able to make this style of play work due to their midfield depth. Emre Can, James Milner, Adam Lallana, Lucas Leiva, Philippe Coutinho, and Roberto Firmino combine create the balance needed in Klopp’s 4-2-3-1 turned 4-3-3 to make Gengenpressing work.
Other teams that could succeed with Gengenpressing would be Manchester City. With a strong consistent defensive backline, midfield depth, and three rapid strikers in their depth chart, it could work. David Silva, Kevin De Bruyne, Fernando, Fernandinho, Yaya Toure, have the balance of defensive minded, attacking minded, and hardworking to press high and succeed. The only problem with this is Pep is going to institute his Barcelona fast paced possession oriented game and waste the opportunity to play arguably the most attractive style of football the world has to offer.
By Jonathan Molik, TNF Columnist on 01/03/2016 at 16:01