In their 2-0 Champions League victory over Ajax, Liverpool began Luis Diaz, Diogo Jota, and Mohamed Salah together for the first time.
The performance of a team depends on the work of 11 players in addition to the players who sit on the bench as substitutes. It makes sense to examine the makeup of the starting XI when team news on an upcoming game breaks.
Who is tonight’s center-back pairing? Are the full-backs of first choice on the field? We usually win when Thiago Alcantara and Fabinho play in the middle of the field. One hour before kickoff, these are just a few of the things that every Liverpool supporter in the world is thinking.
There was a time when the names of the front three players didn’t warrant much thought. Roberto Firmino would lead the press and open up space down the middle, with Mohamed Salah on the right and Sadio Mane on the left.
There is no longer that amazing quartet. They only appeared in the starting lineup four times during the entire 2021–2022 season, with their final start coming in February (in a 1-0 victory at Turf Moor). A phase of growth up front was unavoidable once Mane moved to Bayern Munich, and it advanced further in the 2-1 Champions League victory over Ajax.
Salah, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz were chosen by Jurgen Klopp for the visit of the Dutch champions. They hadn’t previously had many opportunities even within games, and it was the first time they had begun a match together.
The 30-minute span they were given in a home game against Leicester City, Diaz’s first start for the club, was the longest of the trio’s seven prior instances of being on the field together. None of these games, which also included the League Cup final and a matchup with Villarreal in the Champions League semifinals, had any combination of two of the three players assisting and scoring a goal.
At least one instance of the trio working together to generate a change was seen in the 2-0 Anfield victory over the Spanish team. From the midway point, Salah advanced and sent the ball inside to Jota, who eventually found Diaz. The play showed an excellent connection between the three forwards, even though the Colombian flashed a shot across the face of the Anfield Road goal rather than into it.
Additionally, they played a significant role in the commotion that followed the recent Merseyside derby. Jota found Salah in the third minute of stoppage time, but his effort was stopped. A goal effort by Diaz’s Egyptian teammate was saved less than one minute later. The ball was returned to Jota.
In the seventeenth minute of the game against Ajax, these close calls were rendered insignificant. Diaz advanced with a long pass from Alisson Becker. Jota received the ball and passed it to Salah, who scored. The former Wolves player has now assisted the Reds’ No. 11 on goals against RB Leipzig, Manchester United both at home and away, and Ajax. In important games, the pair clearly complement one another.
The data from the Ajax game also indicates that the three press well together, which will be very pleasing to Klopp. Although there is no advanced data for the Eredivisie, Remko Pasveer, the goalkeeper, completed 25 passes in six Champions League matches last year against pressure from opponents.
Despite Jota’s reputation as the “pressing monster,” Diaz had the greatest influence in this situation. He made an incredible 33 pressures in a game where the Reds held 56% of the possession. Only once each of the previous two campaigns, regardless of the team’s percentage of possession, did a Liverpool player press the opposition as frequently while the team was in possession of the ball.
Obviously, nothing can be proved or decided by one game. However, if the front three of Diaz, Jota, and Salah can maintain their strong pressing and consistent goal-scoring ability, Klopp may have found his ideal front three for the near future.