Liverpool’s win against Leicester City was almost flawless. The attack was brilliant for the Merseyside club but there still were doubts about the defence, Lucas in particular. The Brazilian was drafted as a make-shift centre-back due to Dejan Lovren’s injury and it was his mistake that gave Leicester their only goal of the game.
Many had picked on Lucas after the game for the error but truth be told, this was not a mistake that a defender would have made. This error could have been committed by anyone in the team, anywhere on the pitch. It was not like Lucas had lost out a header or was caught out of position during the game.
There are many that are suggesting that Lucas should only play in midfield but Klopp does see him as a defender and that could be for good reason.
A ball playing centre-back?
The Brazilian was rated a measly 6.6 by Whoscored.com, the lowest for any Liverpool player who started against Leicester. In fact, the former Gremio man did pretty well dealing with the likes of Shinji Okazaki and Jamie Vardy, who both put up anonymous performances.
Lucas has a pass percentage of 90%, which was one of the highest in the game and was greater than his centre-back partner Joel Matip. The Brazilian has the second best pass completion percentage in the Liverpool team and he certainly was one of the best tacklers in the game as well.
The 29-year-old won all four of his tackles that he attempted against Leicester City. Not only that, he also cleared the ball an astonishing 12 times in the game. If we combined the clearances of Joel Matip, Robert Huth and Wes Morgan from the game, we would get just 13, thus showing Lucas’ strength.
The Brazilian also had the most touches of the ball in the Liverpool team, along with James Milner, with 89. Even Sadio Mane and Adam Lallana did not have these many touches throughout the game. It is his comfort with the ball at his feet that can extend his stay in the Liverpool side as a defender. While Lucas seems great playing the ball around, there still is an issue with the “defender”.
Aerial ability a huge issue for Lucas
Lucas was really poor in the air against Leicester, and this was putting it mildly. The Brazilian only won two of his aerial battles, that too with just a 29% success rate. He was not up against a Diego Costa or a Wilfried Bony who will go up for every header and the Liverpool man would certainly struggle against some of the better headers of the ball.
This is the weak spot that other teams would want to exploit and it was a surprise as to why Leicester did not target Lucas enough, especially after his howler. The Brazilian, nevertheless, did put up a decent performance and with a capable defender beside him, Lucas could add a bit of composure on the ball for the Reds.
Jurgen Klopp did keep Lucas this season with the belief that he could do a job in defence and the Brazilian did that pretty well against Leicester. He probably will not be able to break the pairing of Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip but he can provide cover for the duo. This might not be the role he is most comfortable with but this will extend his career at Liverpool.