Champions League: Why I played Wijnaldum as ‘top striker’ against Barcelona – Klopp

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Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp has explained why he played midfielder, Georginio Wijnaldum, as a top striker during his side’s 3-0 defeat to Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final first leg on Wednesday.

Klopp said he decided to play Wijnaldum as a centre-forward against the La Liga champions because Liverpool needed a player between the lines who is good enough to keep and pass the ball.

A goal from Luis Suarez and a brace from Lionel Messi gave Ernesto Valverde’s men all three points against the Reds.

Speaking on his decision to play Wijnaldum as a top striker against Barcelona, Klopp was quoted by Metro UK as saying on Friday ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League clash against Newcastle on Saturday: ‘It was quite a big task’. I said to him: ‘What does it say about you?’ He said: ‘I don’t know’. I said: ‘That you can play everything’. When I told him that he plays the position, he was surprised himself.

“It was for different reasons and he needed 30 or 35 minutes to adapt really to it, but then he did brilliantly and the second half was really good.

“We needed this kind of player, an offensive player who is quite good in defending as well, because we cannot ignore the quality of Barcelona obviously. But we needed a player between the lines who is good enough to keep the ball and pass the ball.

“I know for people outside it’s easy to say, ‘[You need] another striker’ or whatever. There are different jobs to do on the pitch. Gini did really well.

“In a game like this, in a really small space, in a completely new position for him, he played it in Holland and he played offensive wing at Newcastle, so he knew about it. He is the player to do it.

“As a football player you have to be educated in a lot of things and he has this education. So it helped, it was really good.”