Liverpool’s 0-0 draw against Bayern Munich on Tuesday showed signs that their relatively free schedule compared to Manchester City could be their downfall in the Premier League title race.
The Reds no longer feature in the FA Cup and won’t be playing in the Carabao Cup Final on Sunday because they were knocked out in the early rounds after fielding weakened sides. This could be a masterstroke because, as City find out regularly, fixture congestions test the depth and fitness of your squad, and Liverpool simply don’t have enough depth to deal with it.
However, at times the best way to recover from poor form or continue good form is to play quickly after it, something Liverpool won’t be able to do when FA Cup weekends crop up or they’re out of the Champions League, which could be the case considering the prospect of having to win at Bayern Munich. Their prioritisation could come back to bite them.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were warm-weather training in Marbella for a week prior to the Bayern game and when it came to the final pass or shot on Tuesday night, it looked like they thought they were still there. Liverpool were lacking the cutting edge we saw early this season and last season, as they have since the year turned quite frankly.
Yes, it’s important that in a title run-in players have chance to rest before their next match, but a week’s rest may be too much and could be even more detrimental than playing every three or four days. This is certainly the case when the extra games City are playing involve teams of much less quality like Rotherham, Burton, Swansea and even Schalke in the Champions League.
If City get past Schalke, they could face a much tougher draw in the next round and that will certainly test their ability to play across three competitions, as it will be by then. Liverpool’s position in the Champions League is less assured, but those who would prioritise the Premier League over Europe should hope Liverpool remain in the competition.
Without playing regularly, Liverpool could become lethargic as it looked in and around the box on Tuesday, so their weapon of prioritisation could become their own worst enemy in the title race.
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