At the beginning of the season, Joel Matip did not expect himself to start a lot of games. The Cameroon defender was Klopp’s fourth choice centre back behind Virgil Van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren. But constant injuries to Gomez and Lovren left Klopp with no choice but to start Matip alongside Van Dijk in the heart of Liverpool’s defence.
The former Schalke defender has not disappointed Liverpool’s German manager and is playing at his peak this season. The defender might have won Klopp’s vote as the first choice defender to partner Van Dijk.
Strong At The Back
With Van Dijk, Gomez, Lovren and Matip, Liverpool has 4 world class centre backs in the team. And with Alisson behind, no doubt the team has conceded just 17 goals this season. Matip’s performances this season have been vital in Liverpool’s Premier League and Champions League run. For last couple of seasons, football pundits and fans have criticized Matip a lot for his sloppiness. Virgil Van Dijk’s presence has made him a more confident defender and has improved him a lot.
Although Van Dijk gets all the praise for Liverpool’s fine defensive record, Matip’s contribution to the team has been immense this season. The defender’s numbers this season are way better than Manchester City’s Aymeric Laporte or Manchester United’s Victor Lindelof and some of them are also better than Liverpool’s own Virgil Van Dijk. Averaging 1.8 tackles per game and 1.3 interceptions this season makes him one of the strongest defenders in the league. While everybody considers Matip to be the weak link in Liverpool’s defence, the numbers say something else.
Even in Van Dijk’s absence, Matip managed to keep the Liverpool’s defence strong when the Premier League side played FC Bayern Munich at Anfield. Playing alongside Fabinho at the back, Matip earned a clean sheet for his team against the mighty attack of Lewandowski, Gnabry and Coman. The 27-year-old has established himself as a top-class defender through his performances this season.
While defenders like Van Dijk, Laporte, Lindelof and Stones are heavily praised, Matip does his job silently and is away from the media spotlight. The defender’s passing has improved a lot this season. Signed by Liverpool on a free transfer, he is now proving to be another world-class piece of business done by the Anfield club.
The former Schalke man’s mistakes at the back have reduced a lot this season. The fans have well forgotten his sloppiness at the back. The media should give Matip a lot of credit for Liverpool’s firm defence. The Cameroonian has helped Jurgen Klopp build a resistant wall at Anfield. He has complemented Van Dijk quite well in Liverpool’s defence.
The 27-year-old has made life quite difficult for the Premier League strikers. He is a very strong figure in the Liverpool team. Even after scoring an unfortunate own goal at the Allianz Arena, he stepped up in the second half and helped the club into the quarterfinals. Van Dijk and Klopp should also be given a lot of credit in improving the defender’s quality. To conclude, the defender has been Klopp’s silent hero this season.