Gravenberch Superb Start
Liverpool got their European campaign off to a winning start with a 3-1 victory over LASK in the Europa League.
After a poor first-half performance, the Reds went into the interval a goal down, thanks to a brilliant strike from Florian Flekker.
However, second-half goals from Darwin Nunez, Luis Diaz, and Mohamed Salah were enough to secure three points for the Reds.
It was, in fact, debutant Ryan Gravenberch who notched the assist for Luis Diaz’s second-half goal, which proved to be the eventual winner.
In this article, though, we’re going to be taking a deeper look at Ryan Gravenberch’s overall debut performance for the Reds and what we can expect to see from the youngster in the future.
The 21-year-old started as a central midfielder in Jurgen Klopp’s newly adapted box midfield, alongside Harvey Elliott, Wataru Endo, and Stefan Bajcetic.
The latter operated as an inverted full-back alongside Endo, giving both Gravenberch and Elliott more creative freedom in the game.
Gravenberch was deployed on the left-hand side of Klopp’s central midfield, where he regularly linked up with both Luis Diaz and Kostas Tsimikas.
The youngster was one of Liverpool’s standout performers before being replaced in the 74th minute with suspected cramps.
His creative freedom allowed him to really drive with the ball and get his side as far up the pitch as possible.
When driving forward with the ball, his raw pace and strength were incredibly clear to see, with LASK players really struggling to dispossess the youngster.
The Dutch international was fouled on four occasions in the game, which was more than any other player on the pitch for either side.
Gravenberch completed two progressive dribbles with the ball, with only Ben Doak (6) and Darwin Nunez (3) completing more for the Reds.
His passing was also an absolute joy to watch throughout the game, constantly breaking LASK’s midfield lines.
Gravenberch only had a 70% pass completion rate with just 23 completed passes across the 74 minutes; however, this actually symbolises how progressive and creative his attempts were.
Out of those 23 completed passes, four of those were key passes, and one created a big chance, which was, in fact, his assist for Luis Diaz’s goal.
No player on the pitch made more key passes than the 21-year-old, with Darwin Nunez and Stefan Bajcetic both completing two.
Many will have been eagerly watching to see whether Gravenberch has the capabilities to be a potential solution to Liverpool’s defensive midfield issues.
Well, the youngster certainly looked promising not just on the ball but off the ball as well.
Gravenberch won five ground duels and one aerial duel in his 74 minutes on the pitch, with no other Liverpool player winning more ground duels.
Despite being so young, he also showed an abundance of maturity in terms of his positioning and anticipation around both penalty areas.
The Next Steps
So, there were definitely some promising signs that Klopp could look to create a defensive midfielder out of Gravenberch.
However, it was clear to see that his strongest aspects of his game came on the front foot as a more creative midfielder.
He can naturally drive into promising positions and pick out progressive passes, but his decision-making in the final third could still do with some improvement.
But that could easily come after a run of games when his match sharpness is in much better condition.
Being used in the same role that Dominik Szobozslai is deployed in on the right-hand side is where I see Gravenberch’s best position at the moment.
Therefore, I definitely think that Gravenberch and Curtis Jones will be jostling for that left-sided position on Klopp’s team sheet.