Jurgen Klopp believes Fabinho’s confidence and stature at the heart of Liverpool’s defense will continue to grow after the Brazilian put in a dominant performance in the Champions League win at Ajax.
Fabinho made a crucial contribution to the win with his spectacular shot on goal that prevented Dusan Tadic from equalizing Nicolás Tagliafico’s own goal. The midfielder was forced back into central defense due to injuries to Virgil van Dijk and Joël Matip. With Liverpool’s vice-captain standing on the sidelines for months with an anterior cruciate ligament injury, Klopp was encouraged by Fabinho’s full-fledged partnership with Joe Gomez.
“Was there any pressure on this situation tonight? Yes, ”said Klopp about his central defense problems. “It is clear to the two in the back that it was their first game together, I think. Fabinho can play the position, he actually likes to play it. If I asked him to play again right away, he probably wouldn’t enjoy it that much. In our situation we have to keep them boys fit. But I’m really looking forward to tonight. It certainly gave him confidence.
“It was good, but Fabinho can play better too. Joe and Fabinho have to get used to each other, they have to get used to the verbal demands of the position and help the midfield. It was a good performance, but there is a lot that can be improved and that is a good thing. It was absolutely good tonight. “
Klopp admitted that Liverpool needed “a bit of luck” to hold a goal with Fabinho’s clearance and Davy Klaassen, the former Everton midfielder, hit a post in the second half. “We’re not giving too much of a goal because there were two situations where we were far from perfect,” he said.
Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané were all substituted on the hour but the Liverpool manager insisted he shouldn’t rest them for Saturday’s game against Sheffield United or because of an injury. Mané had an ice pack on his knee after it was withdrawn.
Klopp said: “You could see that it was an intense game and if you win the ball you have a great chance with the offensive transitions. It was tough for the top three so I was glad we could make that change and make five changes tonight. Sadio has had a dead leg for a few days. It’s still painful but it’s not a problem and when he’s not playing he puts ice on it. “