EVEN the sight of one of Liverpool’s most famous flags wasn’t quite enough to inspire Liverpool to victory last night.
Joey might have eaten the frogs legs and made the Swiss roll, but it turns out Bayern might take a bit more Munchen than Gladbach did in ’77.
But positives still arose from the game, particularly defensively where a makeshift backline managed to repel Lewandowski and co with relative ease. Much was made before the game of Liverpool having to field their fourth and fifth-choice centre backs in such a big game, but both Matip and Fabinho more than held their own.
Fabinho in particular is fast becoming Mr Reliable for Liverpool wherever he plays, to the extent that there was plenty of discussion last night over whether he actually should be considered fifth-choice centre half for Liverpool or much higher.
After the game, my dad said he would start Fabinho with van Djik at Old Trafford on Sunday, regardless of the fitness of others, and the only problem with that I could think of was that I want him in midfield as well.
It’s quite the turnaround for Fabinho considering he couldn’t even make the bench for Liverpool earlier in the season, and was being linked with loan moves back to France by journalists who seemed a bit too keen to make it happen.
Now, for many Liverpool fans, he is one of the first names on the teamsheet — the only question being where best to deploy his considerable talents.
At times his game seems almost too dynamic to play anywhere else but midfield. His passing range and athleticism are perfect for a deeper midfield role. In style, he is the closest thing I have seen to Vieira since he left Arsenal. And they’ve had about seven “new Vieras” since.
But his performance at centre half certainly makes you think, well, maybe. It’s not just his one-on-one defending — which you would expect to be excellent, as demonstrated by a great block on Lewandowski inside the penalty area — the biggest surprise is his positional play.
Things that young centre halves who have played that position throughout the academy system struggle with, Fabinho seems to have a natural knowledge of. Quite often it seemed to be him last night, rather than Joel Matip, who was deciding when the defensive line should push up and when it should drop.
Above all else, this shows his natural football intelligence. How he can read the game seemingly no matter where he is on the pitch. Jürgen Klopp has talked extensively of Gini Wijnaldum’s outstading verstality and his ability to “switch from one mindset to another”. I am sure he is starting to add Fabinho to his growing list of players who can perform for him seemingly no matter where they play.
It is to everyone’s credit, not least Fabinho’s, that everyone stayed calm when he was struggling to adapt to Liverpool and the Premier League.
One of the most fascinating parts of the recent Pep Lijnders interviews was his discussion of the work they did with Fabinho. Lijnders admiration for Fabinho is clear. Calling him “the lighthouse” within the “organised chaos” of this Liverpool side. The cool head among the beautiful madness.
Now he’s settled, you fancy Fabinho could be guiding this team for years to come. A big boss lighthouse in the middle of the park.
The Anfield Wrap’s Craig Hannan said he was going to get “Fabinho 3” on the back of his favourite hoody. I’m going to make a giant flag of New Brighton Lighthouse with Fabinho’s head on the top.
Coming to an away end near you soon.
“I’m not worried about this at all. We can turn them over in Munich.” 👏
— The Anfield Wrap (@TheAnfieldWrap) February 19, 2019