For years, the beloved 4-3-3 system has brought so much success at Anfield. That front three of Mane, Firmino and Mohamed Salah delivered their first top-flight league title in 30 years; not to mention Europe's biggest prize.
But following an unusually lethargic start to the 2022/23 campaign, it appears Saturday's 3-3 draw against Brighton was the final straw for Klopp, who admitted they were "all over the place" and "not convincing" throughout last weekend's game.
A meeting with assistant Pep Lijnders followed after the Brighton result. Klopp decided it was time to switch things up and try a new formation for Tuesday's Group A fixture – a 'basic' 4-4-2 that looked more like a 4-2-3-1 and 4-2-4 at times.
It breathed new life into the Reds, especially going forward. Darwin Nunez was the focal point in attack and although he didn't get on the scoresheet against Rangers, his movement and link-up play was impressive, to say the least.
Mohamed Salah, who has only scored two goals in the league this season, also looked more at home in the new formation, and was given more freedom to roam in attacking areas.
Best thing about this formation change is Salah no longer playing right back for 80% of the game— Hamzah Abbas (@HamzahAbbasBBC) October 4, 2022
That’s the Liverpool we’ve been missing.— 𝑾𝒊𝒍𝒄𝒐🧣 (@KIopptinho) October 4, 2022
The new formation seems to be creating loads of chances.
Liverpool formation vs Rangers - 4-2-4 pic.twitter.com/4NtFTctCIm— James Nalton (@JDNalton) October 4, 2022
Klopp also decided to drop Fabinho from his starting line-up following a poor run of form, instead opting for the balanced double pivot of Jordan Henderson and Thiago to protect what has been a leaky back four.
The German will be the first to admit that Liverpool have been too easy to play against on numerous occasions this season but defensively, they looked solid throughout on Tuesday night.
After the game, Klopp admitted the squad only had Monday's training session to work on the new system but the difference was clear. Balance, structure and a focal point upfront.
“It was a really good defensive performance in a new structure,” Klopp told reporters at full-time. “Offensively, we created an awful lot. I liked it a lot.
"The way the boys upfront moved together was extremely good for only one session working on it. We never did it before, we did one session and that was low intensity because we only played recently.
"You just see how good a striker Darwin is to be constantly in these situations. I think everybody saw that this (him scoring goals) will happen.”
"Absolutely, it was exactly what we needed."— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) October 4, 2022
"Trent has no problem with defending, it's just the way we play."
Jürgen Klopp was delighted with how his Liverpool side performed with a new formation this evening 💯
🎙️ @TheDesKelly #UCL pic.twitter.com/FWfboqlA58
Klopp:— Anfield Watch (@AnfieldWatch) October 4, 2022
"It was a 4-4-2 and when we defended, it was a 4-6! It worked really well and it is always an option to play like this." #lfc [bein sports]
Klopp added: “It (The tactical change) was actually nothing to do with the game. It had a little bit to do with the game but not too much. It was for us.
"We wanted to defend differently to what we usually do. If you see us for a few years now, if somebody was criticising us for defending it was more people talking about the high line.
“But then people then created, when we were in a defensive pressing situation, they created a lot of chances. That was rare but happened more. So that’s why we set up slightly differently, closed different gaps."
Liverpool full-back Trent Alexander-Arnold, who opened the scoring with a sumptuous free-kick, is clearly a fan of the new system.
“We went back to a bit more of a basic 4-4-2 and played it really well," he said.
"We shifted across the pitch really well and we made it compact — they couldn’t play through us. They were playing a lot of long balls and stuff like that and we were winning the second balls.
"The change in tactics definitely helped us.”
Thoughts on the way Liverpool played against Rangers on Tuesday night? Should Klopp continue to use this formation in the coming weeks?
Let us know in the comments.
Featured Image Credit: Alamy