Investigating the differences and similarities between Klopp and Slot's tactics

  • Jurgen Klopp and Arne Slot encourage attractive football.
  • Both coaches value positional versatility.
  • There are some different details that both want to instill in their system.
Dutch EredivisieNEC Nijmegen v Feyenoord Rotterdam
Dutch EredivisieNEC Nijmegen v Feyenoord Rotterdam / ANP/GettyImages

As we approach the final few days of the Jurgen Klopp era at Liverpool, it is time we begin looking forward to what is to come, namely the arrival of Dutch coach Arne Slot.

For nearly a decade, we have become accustomed to Klopp's gegenpressing, high-intensity style at Liverpool. It was obviously very successful both in the trophy cabinet and on a weekly basis. So what does the incoming Slot like to do?

That's what we're here to learn today as I take a deep dive into the tactical differences and similarities between the two coaches to see how smooth the transition might be.

Get your notepads out and let's dive into it.

Examining Jurgen Klopp's philosophy

We start with the formation that became the German's preference over the years, the 4-3-3. He wanted his forwards to be fluid and interchangeable while at the same time demanded a high-energy and high pressing line from his attackers and midfield.

This overwhelming press is what led to a lot of nonstop action in Liverpool games over the years as lesser teams would simply crumble under the constant pressure.

The front three press from Liverpool allowed them to harry the opposing defense from all angles. Klopp also demands a lot from his midfield as they are asked to cover a lot of ground in his system.

He wants dynamic and energetic midfielders that can burst forward at any moment while in the same instance, jump out wide or back to press and win the ball back. Players like Gini Wijnaldum thrived in this setup.

Klopp wants to play fluid football where everyone can get involved from almost any angle as he wanted his fullbacks to bomb forward and became main creators once the midfield had pressed the opposition centrally.

As a result we have seen both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold rack up the goal contributions over the years.

Studying Arne Slot's football philosophy

The Dutchman also wants his side's to press when they can, but he prefers there to be a bit more structure and stability and less chaotic.

Slot prefers the 4-2-3-1 formation to begin with but it has the ability to morph into something like a 4-4-2 when it comes to pressing as the central attacking midfield is encouraged to press high up alongside the forward.

As a result of this, Slot's teams typically only have the two players pressing high upfield as opposed to the three from Klopp.

That means Slot has an extra body in the midfield which means he does not require the intense covering that Liverpool's system does. The extra midfield presser means they have more balance when pressing in the center of the park.

Because of this, the fullbacks under Slot do not abandon their zones defensively near as much as Robbo and Trent would which gives more structure to the defense as well.

Exploring similarities between the two styles

Both coaches opted for a double pivot at most points in their tenures. They have both evolved their system to include an inverted fullback into one of the pivot positons. For Klopp, this role fell to Alexander-Arnold while under Slot at Feyenoord, Lutsharel Geertruida took up this responsibility from his right-back spot.

That might explain why he is a player of interest for Liverpool as he could be a perfect addition to the side under Klopp to keep pushing Trent to improve.

Klopp's formation having one less midfielder meant he asked more of his No. 8's to drop back into a pivot role alongside someone like Fabinho or this year, Wataru Endo. A high-energy player like Wijnaldum and Dominik Szoboszlai fit this role well.

Attacking Phase for both coaches

Under Slot, his teams encourage the wide players to stretch the opposition as much as they can before taking on their counterparts 1-on-1. With the attack stretching the defense wide, this allows the central players to make attacking runs forward through the various channels that open up.

This is quite similar to what Klopp wants to see from his attack as the likes of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez have thrived in these one-on-one situations.

Alexis Mac Allister in particular, was very good at bombing forward from the midfield to score goals such as this against Sheffield.

Mac Allister is a player that can thrive under Slot as he has the natural ability to create going forward while still being able to drop into a pivot role.

Klopp has his fullbacks play vital roles in the attack as they are also encouraged to overlap the wingers as they cut inside. When this happens, the midfield would shift wider to create small triangles to work through the defense.

Final Verdict

There are a lot of similarities between the two systems at their core. Klopp and Slot want their teams to play on the front foot and not give the opponent any rest on the ball.

They like fluidity throughout the side and adaptability are very big for both. Positional versatility goes a long way under both men.

Whereas Klopp promotes a more "heavy metal", non-stop intensity approach to games, Slot will offer more structure and controlled chaos. Both are forms of pressing, but ask different things from their players.

In terms of attacking moves, both tactics are quite similar in how they want to stretch the defense before inserting multiple assets into the ensuing pockets of space. Inverted fullbacks and attacking midfielders are both staples in each setup as well.