There was no secret going into the Reds’ clash with Barcelona at the Camp Nou that Roberto Firmino was an injury concern. Regardless, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge able to deputise, it was a baffling decision that Jurgen Klopp opted to start Georginio Wijnaldum as a false #9, a move that cost them.
78' – Our second change, as Wijnaldum is replaced by Firmino.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 1, 2019
Wijnaldum may be one of the most versatile players around, having featured in pretty much every position on the football pitch at some point in his career. However, he simply isn’t a striker, and whilst Firmino may thrive in that false #9 role as he can freely create space for Mo Salah and Sadio Mane to wreak havoc out wide, it doesn’t come as naturally to Wijnaldum, and that showed yesterday.
The Dutchman certainly wasn’t short of work rate and effort, but it was just too big of an occasion for him as he tried to adapt and thrive in a new area of the pitch. It took 78 minutes for Klopp to withdraw the former Newcastle man, and the Kopites were both fuming at Klopp for his decision to use Wijnaldum out of position and for waiting so long before making a change that could have seen them get a bit more zip in front of goal.
You can read the Reds’ thoughts on Klopp’s Wijnaldum decisions here:
— #KloppOut (@BG1Life) May 1, 2019
Where is the intensity? Klopps tactics extremely poor! Why play a holding midfielder up font when we have 2 strikers on the bench?
— Stephen S (@Sullie132) May 1, 2019
Klopp ruined this
— jack (@jack69014909) May 1, 2019
wijnaldum st vs barca how come ????????
— Atef (@Atef_abdelhai) 1 May 2019
Well to late again kloppo
— petra b (@llejbakb) May 1, 2019
Good one klopp, only 78 minutes late
— King Dool (@King_Dool_) May 1, 2019
Firmino on with 12 minutes to go? Klopp is so smart!!!
— Callum (@Ca1cs) May 1, 2019
Why does klopp take forever to make a sub…
— Wahid (@WahidMiah_) May 1, 2019
— -_- (@asd6609) May 1, 2019
Wijnaldum was a total waste as a foward, no pressing, no defensive contribution yet klopp allowed him to stay till the 2nd goal.
— Chowkidar Vivek Singh (@vivek72singh) May 1, 2019
The Reds could not believe it as Wijnaldum trudged about up front to little effect for so long, and were not at all pleased with Klopp for allowing it to happen.
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