In preparation for the 2019 Champions League final, Liverpool enlisted the help of Benfica.
The Reds face the Portuguese giants for a place in the semi-finals on Tuesday night, but three years ago they enlisted the help of their B team by mimicking Tottenham’s tactics in a friendly.
Jurgen Klopp’s side spent a week in Marbella preparing for the final, which they eventually won 2-0 in Madrid.
The trip was used to keep fit and get used to the heat in Spain ahead of the game.
Benfica B have been invited to their training camp for a friendly and their coach Renato Paiva has explained how significant their influence has been.
They were asked to analyze and reflect Spurs’ approach in every way they could, and were chosen based on similarities in style.
Paiva told Portuguese outlet A Bola, translated by Tiago Estevao, about her assignment.
“We recreated two of their offensive moments and two of their defensive moments, as well as the set pieces we thought they would use in the final,” he said.
“We recreated their build-up routines for centre-backs and goalkeepers, their 4-2-3-1 defensive form where the striker cuts between opposing centre-backs and the 10 hampering Liverpool’s 6. Vinicius imitated [Christian] Eriksen, Bernardo seemed more like [Dele] Alli and Jose Gomes was [Harry] Kane.
Liverpool played Benfica B team ahead of the Champions League final in Marbella. Turns out it was more than just fitness, it was specific tactical preparation.
I translated some quotes from Renato Paiva (Benfica B coach) who spoke to ABola newspaper about it. pic.twitter.com/6aBnohwUwn
– Tiago Estêvão (@TiagoEstv) June 4, 2019
“We had to adapt to that 4-2-3-1 form, both defensively and in possession, with two midfielders getting close to the centre-backs during the build-up to try and tighten Liverpool’s pressing. “Tottenham would ideally like to lure Liverpool players closer to their penalty area so that after a couple of passes between the centre-back and goalkeeper they can attack the space behind with their strikers and full-backs.
“We ended up making only minor changes to our regular system. A midfield triangle where Alli moves closer to the opposing centre-back (with Kane alongside the other), Eriksen moves in to bring the full-back into play [Kieran] Trippier covers the wide space. Similar to [Heung-min] son and [Danny] rose on the left.
“Klopp paid us a compliment – ‘When you lost your centre-backs in the build-up, we immediately put on the same pressing as we did against Manchester City and you still managed to beat it three or four times!'”
On the night, Liverpool drove to victory, helped by an early penalty scored by Mohamed Salah.
Divock Origi scored the second goal three minutes from time.
And Benfica will have to be wary of Salah’s threat in the first leg of the quarter-finals in Lisbon, broadcast live on talkSPORT.
Six of his eight goals for Liverpool in the Champions League this season have been scored away from home. No player has ever scored more than six goals away for Liverpool in a single season in European competition while also chasing a record.
He could become the first player to score ten or more goals for the club in the competition over multiple seasons. The only other player to score more than once double-digit goals in a Champions League season while playing for an English club is Ruud van Nistelrooy, who did so for Manchester United in the 2001/02 and 2002/03 seasons.
Surely no amount of preparation by the hosts can stop a striker in such form…
Benfica vs Liverpool is live on talkSPORT on Tuesday 5 April at 8pm GMT
https://talksport.com/football/553292/liverpool-benfica-tottenham-champions-league-harry-kane-mo-salah/ Liverpool asked Benfica B to emulate Tottenham’s tactics in friendlies to help them in the Champions League final, mimicking Harry Kane and co before Mohamed Salah’s early goal sent them on their way to victory