Post match: LFC 2-3 Udinese

sami

TIA First Team
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
2,482
It maybe a bit late but i wrote this post match analysis for lfcts.com, unfortunately their servers were down and the article didnt get much 'exposure', so couldn't post it sooner. But better late than never, please give it a read. Any feedback/criticism is welcome:-)
_____________________________________________________________________________


Liverpool were unbeaten in Europe under Brendan Rodgers coming into this fixture. But the 3rd place side from the 2011-12 Serie A campaign were arguably Liverpool’s most difficult opposition in continental games.
It was a game characterised by the type of football Rodgers is looking to instill at the club. There was total domination in the first half but Udinese were able to react back and coach Franceso Guidolin was able to get his side to counter Liverpool’s domination with quick and clinical play.
  • BACKGROUND
It was a confident and quality start from the home side following up on their back to back victories. It was the Rodgers philosophy at its best. One can see that the side are quickly learning and adapting to his play. It showed last night that this Liverpool team is learning how to fit into a system that Rodgers is implementing. The movement from the midfielders, the passing, full backs getting forward when they can, wingers tracking back etc, these were minute signs but it is still not quite where Rodgers would like it to be.
It was always going to be difficult to line up against Udinese. This is a team that finished 3rd to Juventus and AC Milan the previous season. Missing out on Champions League football in the qualifiers. Francesco Guidolin has a growing reputation in Italy to be a bit of a tactical master and his record in the last few seasons is a signal of this. He set his side out to play a 3-4-3 formation but for large parts of the first half his side were pegged back.
  • FORMATION
It was’nt Liverpool’s strongest XI with the likes of Suarez and Gerrard on the bench. Rodgers continued with the ‘continental’ defensive duo of Carragher and Coates. Youngster Robinson got a start as full back with Johnson switching back to his right back position. It was a young but fairly experienced midfield with Allen, Henderson and Shelvey forming a triangle in the middle of the park. Downing got a start, so did Assaidi with Borini playing in his more familiar central role. Jamie Carragher was once again given the captains arm-band.

  • PERFORMANCE
The Reds started off very brightly with the midfield especially settling in comfortably. Good quick passes drawing the opposition out. The movement of all the players was particularly commendable, making it difficult to mark. Whatever intentions the Udinese boss had for the start of the match regarding attack were probably thrown out the window. With his side pegged back he pretty much resorted to spending the first half allowing Liverpool to attack and concentrating on the defensive weaknesses of the opposition that could be exploited.
Liverpool saw alot of the ball in the first half and retained possession for much of the half. Whenever Udinese found themselves in possession there were two Liverpool players onto the player making it difficult for them to find space. This was especially done in midfield which resulted in the Italian side losing possession constantly. However when the ball did find its way into Udinese’s attacking third there was not much cover at the back, and neither was there support for the attacking Udinese players. This encouraged the Liverpool midfielders and defenders further forward and pushed the opposition further back.
One thing he would have noticed was the constant forward movement of out full backs and in particular, Glen Johnson. The right back spent most of the first half (and much of the game) in the opposition half playing down the flank and often having Downing to cover in for him at the back. Johnson’s attacking from out wide is solid and difficult to defend against. From a defenders point of view its difficult for them to mark or stop an attacking full back and Johnson constantly took advantage of the time and space given to him. What did this however made us extremely short at the back with Johnson sometimes delaying himself in tracking backs and occasionally finding it hard to contain Udinese’s quick counters. This proved to be fatal as we’ll see a little ahead.
Seb Coates and Carragher did a fairly good job of protecting Pepe Reina’s goal in the first half. They were not tested much either but were up to it when called upon. Jack Robinson too looked confident on the pitch and didn’t do much wrong. He moved forward a couple of times attempting to mirror the play of his colleague on the right side. But with Johnson thriving on attack, Robinson stayed back to cover for the him and form a 3 man defence. Coates too attempted to move into attack a couple of occasions but was often called back by Carragher.
One particular situation arised in the first half was the inability to deal with set-pieces. Udinese players were able to get their heads on to corners and the best chance for the Italian side came from a set-piece. Di Natale’s free-kick met by the head of Faraoni who surprisingly found enough time and space to get his head to the ball in the six yard box. A world class save from Pepe Reina denied the Italians an equaliser.
The biggest positive was watching our midfield trio settling in confidently and taking control. Allen as usual found himself to be the anchorman, dropping deep to collect the ball and holding it up enough to give the other players to make their forward runs. He was as calm and composed as ever. Henderson slotted in well next to Allen. He’s often found himself to play a defensive role, but with Allen taking care of that Henderson moved further whenever space opened up in front of him. But Shelvey in particular has really matured as a footballer and this showed last night once again. What has lacked for Liverpool over the past season or so is reluctance from the midfielders to get into the box. Shelvey however shows reluctance to leave the attacking area. He fitted in into the hole behind the striker, moving within the attackin territory. When the ball was sprayed out wide he was willing to get into the box. He did drop deep on occasions to help out his midfielders but his attacking mentality is what sets him apart from the remaining midfielders in the squad.
His willingness to get into the box from midfield is what proved to be the decisive break that Liverpool needed as well.

Credit should be given to Downing as well for the cross. Shelvey played a precise pass to him and continued his movement into the box.

Downing did well to pick out his man with the cross. No one was able to pick up Shelvey’s run into the box and he was left unmarked to power in a header.
Besides his assist Downing put in a decent shift last night. On occasions he could be seen tracking back, something he failed to do last season. He was also willing to take on a defender, again this was something he was unable to do for much of last season. There is no doubt Downing prefers to play down the wings and he has decent pace up with him as well. The more he uses this to his advantage the better his chances at first team football. He was also able to get players into the game yesterday. Johnson who was constantly moving forward down the right forced Downing to get narrow. He was made to move inside and even then he fitted in decently. He was able to string a few passes along with his midfielders and closed down the opposition as well.
Assaidi on the other hand didn’t have that good a game. He showed his skill and pace on a couple of occasions. He was able to dribble cleverly past his opponents but as the game went on his tactical inefficiency showed. Downing and Johnson were combining well in attack but Assaidi and Robinson weren’t able to do this. Downing’s defencive play was alright as well when Johnson moved up but Assaidi didn’t get back enough. Unlike Johnson and Downing there was no transition between Robinson and Assaidi. The young full back mainly defended while Assaidi tried to mainly attack. He does have the ability, with time one can only hope that he settles into Rodgers’ system. The rest of the squad are showing their signs, with enough gave time, Assaidi will too.
The tone of the first half was pretty much Liverpool attacking domination. Udinese maintained their organisation though. After being pushed back they resorted to defending. With the defenders and midfielders both maintaining a line of defence. They allowed Liverpool to pass the ball around in midfield and side to side, but the moment Liverpool moved further forward with the ball towards Udinese’s box, they closed down the player in possession. They made it hard for Liverpool to find space into their box.
The Italian side encouraged Liverpool to move forward, and Liverpool obliged. At times nearly the entire Liverpool outfield, bar Carragher were playing in Udinese’s half. The pulled the Red’s players into their half in an attempt to quickly counter their play. Udinese is a side that thrives on patient play before launching a quick attack. It was risky play but they would need to be clinical with it.
This is what Guidolin would have instructed to his side at half time, to remain deep and pull the Liverpool players upfield including the defence, forcing the Merseyside team to play a highline before exploiting it. He would have looked at the best way to attack the home side and what was clearly evident was the gap left on the right side by Johnson’s attacking runs. Udinese would need to attack that side to get back into the game and 30 seconds into the 2nd half, that was exactly what happened. Franceso Guidolin made a tactical substitution at half time bringing on Andrea Lazzari with the intention of exploiting that right hand side.

Johnson should have covered that area where Di Natale played the ball or atleast should have been watching Lazzari make that run. But with him moving forward it compromised his defensive duties.
Lazzari spread that ball back to Di Natale at the edge of the box and anyone who watches the Serie A knows that the Italian needs just a sight of goal to punish you.
It was clever from Udinese and their manager and this continued for much of the half. Liverpool didn’t alter their play though and they refused to be let down by that goal and continued their emphasis on attack.
One man who went pretty much unnoticed for much of the game was Fabio Borini. He was delpoyed in his favourable position playing through the middle and early on popped up with a good chance but thats as good as it got from him. There were shades of good movement which he has shown before. This is key for a striker but as the game wore on he became more and more isolated and failed to have any real impact. Especially in the second half he barely got into the game.
Buoyed by their early equaliser Udinese began pushing forward more in the second half. Liverpool at times found it hard to defend against Udinese attack. Rodgers’ philosophy and training emphasises attack seemingly at the expense of the defence has visibly exposed the defensive frailties of the team. Defensively the team has been very poor. It became an open game with both teams matching each other but Liverpool seemed to have the upperhand.
The defenders and midfielders of Udinese slowly started pushing forward when Liverpool had possession not giving much time and space unlike the first half. Rodgers recognised that a change was needed and this reflected in his two substitutions. Suarez and Gerrard both came on at the expense of Assaidi and Henderson to get Liverpool’s lead back. Henderson put in a good shift but what Liverpool needed at that time was someone to move further up field, have more of an attacking edge and wonderful vision to find the forwards. Unfortunately for Henderson, one of the three midfielders, all of whom were playing well, needed to be sacrificed.
It was however Udinese who scored again, and once again it was the failure of Liverpool to deal with a set piece. It can be said that Coates didn’t know much about it, two Udinese players made a run ahead of him blocking his vision of the ball. He was the unfortunate man who put the ball past his own goalkeeper in what seemed like a last ditch attempt to head the ball out for a corner.
Just two minutes later Udinese punished us again for our attacking emphasis. Much of the Liverpool side was in the Udinese half, and hence not too many players in Red were back when a long ball found Di Natale. The 34 year old did very well to hold onto the ball, put in a few jungles where neither Coates or Carragher able to put in a challenge. Rodgers mentioned it post match as well, that Liverpool players were lazy in getting back, this was evident in Udinese third goal as the Liverpool players didn’t get back in time while Udinese players reacted quicker. A couple of them ran forward quickly, one of which was Giovanni Pasquale. Di Natale found him at the edge of the box, with the left back smashing the ball in past Reina.

Downing and the midfield could have been the one at fault for this goal as Pasquale ran the length of the field from his left back position faster than any of the remaining Liverpool players, none of whom tracked back leaving Pasquale in acres of space to be found by Di Natale. Nothing Reina could do about the shot the followed.
Liverpool were quick to respond to going two goals down. Suarez scored a smashing goal in the 75th minute. There was still hope for Liverpool. Unlike past few seasons they showed great urgency and character to continue forward as they looked to get the equaliser. The introduction of Sterling boosted the attacking options further. What we saw in the first half was alot of Liverpool possession with not much to show for it as Udinese made it difficult for us to play. With a 2 goal lead Udinese once again went back to defending. They attempted to move a bit upfield but were pushed back by Liverpool’s attack. Liverpool had more creativity on the pitch with Suarez, Sterling and Gerrard and Udinese’s strong and organised defence was finding it increasingly hard to counter. Plenty of chances opened up for Liverpool, a couple for Suarez as he made a run behind Udinese’s defence, Sterling had a shot as well, Downing made an attempt, there were a couple of blocked shots as well but Udinese had done enough to see off the Reds.
  • STATISTICS (via whoscored.com)
The stats prove good reading for Liverpool. They had a massive ball possession of 75% which reflects on the way Udinese played, allowing Liverpool the ball while favouring quick counters.
They had a very good passing accuracy of 91% with the Italians managing only 71%. The Reds played a total of 788 passes while Udinese played only 275.
The most telling statistic however was the fact that Liverpool had 20 shots, 7 of which were on target with us scoring 2 of those. That gives us 10% goals per shots percentage.
Udinese on the other hand managed only 8 shots, 3 of which were on target, all 3 of them found their way into the back of the net. It was this clinical finishing that proved to be the difference. Udinese’s superiority in finished showed, 33% was their goals per shot percentage.
Liverpool also won 80% of the aerial dules. And put in 18 successful tackles, Udinese though put in 21.
The impact Luis Suarez has on the side showed again, he played a little over 25mins and in that time had the most number of shots on the pitch. 5 in total. Downing and Shelvey had 3 themselves, a number matches only by Di Natale from the Udinese side. Suarez also had the most number of shots on target, 3 in total. Theres still work that needs to be done, but Suarez could soon become a clinical striker.
From the Liverpool side, Downing put in the most number of tackles, 4 in total. While Faraoni and Lazzari manged the same.
Joe Allen unsurprisingly had attempted the most number of passes, 135. The highest by an Udinese player was 28 by Danilo. The Welshman’s passing accuracy was 94%. Jordan Henderson however managed a better passing accuracy rate, 95%.
  • LOOKING AHEAD
Liverpool have to put this loss behind them and hope for better results in the remaining 4 group stage games. Stoke City our the visitors on Sunday at Anfield. A side that follow a similar play to Udinese, holding back for much of the game. Unlike the Italians though, Stoke play route one football and can rarely play the ball along the ground. Liverpool will need to be aware of the aerial power of the Stoke attack. Once again though we can expect Liverpool to dominate possession, what ultimately wins football matches is how you use that possession.


_______________________________________________________________

http://lfcts.com/post-match-analysis-vs-udinese-h/

All illustrations were made at this11.com
Statistics were courtesy of whoscored.com
The screencaps were via football video search engine footytube.com
Picture courtesy of eurosport.com
 

EdWood

TIA Youth Team
Joined
Jun 2, 2011
Messages
5,700
We lost this game through individual player errors - it's as simple as that. How do you budget for such stuff? It's not been down to one or two players either so far this season as it seems to be happening collectively across the defence and midfield as well. Our game concentration as a unit leaves a lot to be desired. It must be frustrating in the extreme for BR to see us consistently dominating games only to shoot ourselves in the foot time and time again.
 

Gears

TIA Regular
Joined
Jun 10, 2009
Messages
2,399
We lost this game through individual player errors - it's as simple as that. How do you budget for such stuff? It's not been down to one or two players either so far this season as it seems to be happening collectively across the defence and midfield as well. Our game concentration as a unit leaves a lot to be desired. It must be frustrating in the extreme for BR to see us consistently dominating games only to shoot ourselves in the foot time and time again.
I think someone influential needs to communicate to Rodgers that we cannot be so comfortable with the ball, that we forget how to function as a unit when we don't have it. That's what happened to barca when they lost to chelsea.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
11,023
I think someone influential needs to communicate to Rodgers that we cannot be so comfortable with the ball, that we forget how to function as a unit when we don't have it. That's what happened to barca when they lost to chelsea.
Haha luckily we are are not Barca and can't see us ever getting to that point mate. Although it provides all kinds of funny mental images of Messi staring dumbly at his boots wondering why the ball isn't there!
 

sami

TIA First Team
Joined
Oct 20, 2009
Messages
2,482
According to me, BR is still implementing his philosophy while the players are still adapting to it.

What i've noticed from all the way back in pre-season till now is that we are able to start attacks from the back, to get the defence going and transition into attack. However, the transition back to defence from attack is poor and slow which is proving to be the problem. See Udinese's 1st and 3rd goals, it was a case of the players just not reacting quickly enough to get back into defence from an attacking phase.
 

Anfield rd Dreamer

Well-Known Member
Joined
Sep 25, 2012
Messages
11,023
According to me, BR is still implementing his philosophy while the players are still adapting to it.

What i've noticed from all the way back in pre-season till now is that we are able to start attacks from the back, to get the defence going and transition into attack. However, the transition back to defence from attack is poor and slow which is proving to be the problem. See Udinese's 1st and 3rd goals, it was a case of the players just not reacting quickly enough to get back into defence from an attacking phase.
Think youve hit nail on the head for roughly half our goals. The other half the team has worked right but an individual has made an error. The more Rodgers works on the players the less regularly I expect to see the first type of goal and the confident and comfortable the players get the less the second type.