Domestic club football across the world is enjoying an extended winter break this year unlike any seen before. For nearly six weeks, league football will come to a stop to accommodate this year’s World Cup in Qatar.
For some teams like Arsenal or Napoli, this break might not be particularly welcomed.
Momentum is hugely important in football, for teams that are performing well the last thing they want is to have to stop, who knows if their form will continue when they start back up again.
Conversely, teams that have suffered a shaky start to the season could well see the break as a chance to regroup, it will give injured players a chance to return and can allow managers to rethink strategies and tactics.
Liverpool certainly fall into this latter category, as their domestic season hasn’t gone particularly well. Will they be able to benefit from the World Cup break? Read on to find out.
Liverpool’s Season So Far
As always, Liverpool kicked off this season full of expectations. After finishing a single point behind winners Manchester City last year, fans were desperate for the team to overcome their rivals and replicate the success seen in the 2019/2020 season.
However, the current campaign has not gone as planned. An opening day 2-2 draw with Fulham acted as a portent of things to come, being followed by a 1-1 draw at home to Crystal Palace and then a bruising 2-1 defeat to struggling Manchester United.
However, Jurgen Klopp’s men responded in style, crushing Bournemouth with nine unanswered goals. Many fans saw this as a sign that the season was finally getting underway but were soon brought back down to earth after a 0-0 draw to city rivals Everton.
In October, Liverpool recorded another draw with Brighton and then a defeat to league leaders Arsenal.
Again, the club rallied, managing an important victory against Manchester City and another against West Ham, before a humiliating defeat to Nottingham Forest and another loss to Leeds.
They ended the season with victories over Spurs and Southampton before heading into the break on 22 points in sixth place, 15 points adrift from the top of the table.
Liverpool started the season as heavy favourites, so this poor start will have come as a shock for those looking to bet on soccer in SA.
Why Have They Been So Poor?
Exactly why Liverpool have been so lacklustre this season is a matter of opinion. There are no easy answers in football, myriad factors can influence a team’s performance.
However, the Merseysiders have been hit with numerous injuries; key players including Arthur Melo, Joel Matip, Ibrahima Konate, Diogo Jota, and Luis Diaz have all spent long periods on the sidelines. While the squad is rich in depth, these injuries have no doubt had an impact and can be used to explain the poor results, in part at least.
The fitness of the midfield has also been called into question, as has the form of usually reliable defender Virgil van Dijk. The departure of forward Sadio Mane to Bayern Munich has also had a detrimental effect. Liverpool spent over $70 million on Uruguayan striker Darwin Nunez to replace him, but he is yet to truly establish himself as the Senegalese international’s successor.
Will The World Cup Break Help Liverpool?
For teams struggling in their domestic league, mid-season breaks can often be welcomed and can be used as a time to regroup and start again afresh.
Liverpool are certainly no different and they’ll have been desperate to reach the break to get some much-needed respite from the pressure of such a poor run of form.
The league would appear to be out of sight already, barring some unforeseen miracle. However, Liverpool are in real danger of finishing outside the top four, which would see them fail to qualify for next year’s Champions League tournament.
Manager Jurgen Klopp will use the World Cup break to reassess and re-evaluate his strategic and tactical plans. Injured players will get the chance to work their way back into the team, which should hopefully inject a bit of life into a side that has so far looked devoid of ideas.
The January transfer window will also give Liverpool the opportunity to bring in more players. One or two additions could be the key to turning around what has so far been a disaster of a season.