SINGAPORE — They are the midfield linchpins of Liverpool, equally adept in shielding their defensive lines with timely interceptions as well as launching pinpoint passes to initiate the Reds' formidable attack.
Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara may not always be the first names that Reds fans think of among this star-studded squad, but in their own understated way, they are two of the most important players amid the team's consistent successes in recent seasons.
On Thursday (14 July), in what was a rare appearance by first-team Reds during their pre-season tour of Singapore, the duo were tasked to appear at a meet-and-greet fan session at The Ritz Carlton Millenia Singapore, exclusively organised by long-time club sponsor Carlsberg.
And true to their calm and composed statures on the pitch, Fabinho and Thiago tackled the question-and-answer (Q&A) segment with grace and intelligence, before patiently standing through a photo-taking session with the 50-odd fans, allowing the event to go by smoothly without a hitch.
How manager Klopp motivates in tough situations
Calmness was indeed discussed at length during the 10-minute Q&A. When asked about how manager Jurgen Klopp motivates the players during the tough moments, Fabinho replied, "He always works with a lot of passion every day, and I like managers with that kind of intensity.
"But during tough situations, he is also experienced enough to tell everyone to stay calm. So for example, he would say something like 'Guys, you know what you have to do. Just calm down, and play the way we want to play.' Somehow, that always gets us playing better."
Thiago, who was named in the PFA Premier League Team of the Year last season, also believes that the way which Klopp talks is also key in getting the best out of the Liverpool squad.
"More than words, it's in his gestures and the way he talks," he said. "We all know he has a huge personality, but for me, his voice always makes me not think of negative things in difficult moments."
Pre-match rituals that are key to midfield duo
Side by side in midfield, Fabinho and Thiago dictate Liverpool's playing tempo, slowing things down when opponents are applying pressure, and cranking it up when they detect weaknesses among their rivals.
As such, they need complete focus on the pitch to be able to control the match. And a question about pre-match rituals brought out their ideal music to calm down and ease their minds in for the blood and thunder ahead.
Fabinho revealed he likes hip-hop music and, in particular, rap star Kanye West. Thiago, on the other hand, said he prefers Brazilian and R&B music.
When asked if he needs higher-energy music to pump him up for the bigger games, Thiago said, "Actually, the more important the match, I'll go for softer music to calm myself down."
To which Fabinho chipped in and asked, "So in a match which you have to score, what do you listen to?"
"Complete silence," his teammate replied with a laugh.
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