Neither Trent Alexander-Arnold nor Andrew Robertson have Lionel Messi’s star energy, however the buccaneering Liverpool defenders might play simply as important a job because the Barcelona captain of their mouth-watering Champions League semi-final.
Virgil van Dijk has hogged the highlight amongst Liverpool’s defenders with an outstanding marketing campaign that earned the Dutch centre-back the Skilled Footballers’ Affiliation participant of the yr award.
Forward of Wednesday’s first leg in opposition to Messi’s Barca, Robertson and Alexander-Arnold have emerged as important contributors to Liverpool’s bid for Champions League glory.
With 24 assists between them in all competitions, England right-back Alexander-Arnold and Scotland left-back Robertson are pivotal figures in Jurgen Klopp’s game-plan.
Robertson’s 11 assists have equalled the Premier League report for a defender and Alexander-Arnold isn’t far behind, with 9, making Liverpool’s full-backs are as a lot wingers as defenders.
It has turn out to be probably the most demanding, tactically important place within the Liverpool group.
With out Robertson, 25, doing the job of two gamers along with his lung-bursting runs up and down the flanks, Senegal winger Sadio Mane wouldn’t have the liberty to maneuver infield, from the place he has scored 24 targets this time period.
Mohamed Salah’s licence to roam from the wing is just potential as a result of there’s much less want to trace again defensively whereas Alexander-Arnold, 20, tirelessly covers each blade of grass on the proper.
Klopp’s daring system has reaped wealthy rewards as rivals battle to discover a solution to flip off the provision line fuelled by Robertson and Alexander-Arnold.
In producing completely weighted crosses for Mane’s double and a Van Dijk purpose, Alexander-Arnold turned the youngest Premier League participant to create three targets in a single fixture when Liverpool thrashed Watford in February.
Then, when Robertson provided Roberto Firmino with Liverpool’s opening purpose in opposition to Tottenham just lately, Alexander-Arnold matched him by crossing for Salah’s header that led to Toby Alderweireld’s decisive late personal purpose.
They’re the form of key contributions which have turn out to be commonplace this season and Robertson admits the pair’s pleasant rivalry is spurring them to ever larger heights.
“I all the time try to go ahead. Typically my passes don’t discover folks. However I do try to create. If I get two assists, I count on Trent to get three,” Robertson stated with a smile. “All of us must chip in with targets and assists. It’s not simply the entrance three. It’s not simply the defence that retains clear sheets, both. It’s a group recreation.”
Liverpool’s unlikely heroes have taken contrasting routes to the highest.
Liverpool-born Alexander-Arnold is the soft-spoken prodigy who nonetheless lived along with his mum firstly of this season, such has been the speedy nature of his rise from the membership’s academy
Robertson began his profession in obscurity at Queen’s Park and Dundee United earlier than becoming a member of Liverpool from Hull for £eight million in 2017 — a deal that Klopp says got here at a time when “there weren’t 500 golf equipment asking about him”.
Now comes the acid take a look at of the duo in opposition to Barcelona within the Camp Nou.
Impressed by the chic Messi, Barca have scored greater than 130 targets in all competitions already this time period and wrapped up the Spanish title on the weekend.
However, whereas he acknowledges the risk posed by Messi, Luis Suarez and firm, Robertson believes Liverpool ought to stick with their weapons.
“We all know we’ll have our fingers full defensively however all of us defend as a group and we assault as a group. If me and Trent have time to go ahead, we are going to do it. It’s not going to cease us,” Robertson stated. “We all know that we are able to create targets and possibilities, so why change that? However look, we are going to be taught from the sport and transfer from that and see the way it pans out. It’s a problem all of us sit up for.”
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