As teams across Europe play their final game of the group stage, Germany gears up to face Hungary in what could be a make-or-break moment for the entire campaign. The Germans are riding a high after dispatching Portugal with relative ease on Saturday, but Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp has some thoughts about the system.
Speaking to Magenta TV, Klopp echoed the sentiments of several pundits and commentators, saying, “It’s a bit uncomfortable to judge because every coach has the right to make their own decisions. But I would play a back four with this team. I don’t like the system (back-three) very much.”
The back-three has been a subject of controversy ever since it was debuted by Low as a solution to the team’s defensive problems. However, it is an unfamiliar formation. Most of the starting XI on the national team come from Bayern Munich, with the rest coming from Chelsea, Real Madrid, and Manchester City. Many of the players rarely play in a back-three system during the regular season.
Klopp seems to agree with this opinion, saying: “I could imagine a midfield with Joshua Kimmich, Ilkay Gundogan and Toni Kroos extremely well. Everyone would be in the position in which they feel comfortable.”
Only Robin Gosens, who plays for Atalanta in Serie A, has any significant experience playing with a back-three at club level. Perhaps his MotM level performance in the Portugal game is a testament to that familiarity. Meanwhile, it could be said that the back-three hasn’t done much to alleviate Germany’s defensive problems, since Portugal managed to score twice and Renato Sanches hit the crossbar. Even with Manuel Neuer in goal, Germany can’t seem to keep a clean sheet.
The debate will probably only be settled in the game against Hungary, which is almost a must-win for Germany given the nature of Group F. Low definitely won’t change the formation or his tactics for the game, so it’ll be up to the players to demonstrate that the system can deal with all types of opponents. If Germany can win that game, then anything is possible.
“Regardless of all tactical aspects, I wish Jogi Low the title,” said Klopp. “That would be the greatest culmination of his great time as national team coach and I would be very happy.”