The Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Liverpool was a highly anticipated encounter for football fans across the world. Despite Liverpool’s reputation for comebacks, the odds were against them after a 5-2 defeat at Anfield. The second leg proved to be a challenging task for Jurgen Klopp and his side as they lost 1-0 at the Bernabeu. In this blog, we will analyze the match, dissecting the tactics employed by both sides, and examining what went wrong for Liverpool.
Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to go with a 4-3-3 formation proved to be the perfect choice against Liverpool. The Italian manager has always been known for his tactical flexibility, and he showcased his ability to adapt to the opposition once again.
The key to Madrid’s success in this match was their midfield trio of Modric, Casemiro, and Kroos. Modric and Casemiro were deployed as the deep-lying midfielders, tasked with shielding the defense and breaking up Liverpool’s attacks. Meanwhile, Kroos was given the freedom to operate as a more attacking midfielder, with the license to push forward and create chances for the front three.
The front three of Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema, and Marco Asensio was a potent attacking force. Benzema, in particular, was in scintillating form, scoring two goals and providing an assist. Vinicius Junior and Asensio were also a constant threat, using their pace and trickery to run at Liverpool’s defense.
Defensively, Madrid were rock-solid, with their backline of Ferland Mendy, Raphael Varane, Eder Militao, and Lucas Vazquez keeping Liverpool’s attacking players at bay. Mendy, in particular, was outstanding, putting in a defensive masterclass to nullify the threat of Liverpool’s right-wing att
Jurgen Klopp chose to play a 4-2-4 formation, with Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah, and Cody Gakpo leading the attacking line. Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara played as the holding midfielders, with the rest of the team playing in their usual positions.
with stiff resistance from Real Madrid’s experienced defenders, who were able to handle Liverpool’s forward line with relative ease. The Reds’ approach was always going to be risky, given the formidable attacking power of Real Madrid, who had scored five goals in the first leg at Anfield.
Liverpool’s attack lacked the intensity and urgency that they displayed against Barcelona in 2019, with their efforts largely limited to a few half-chances that were comfortably dealt with by the Real Madrid defense. The absence of key players such as Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane was keenly felt, as the Reds struggled to break down Real Madrid’s well-organized defense.
The midfield pairing of Thiago Alcantara and James Milner failed to exert much influence on the game, with both players struggling to keep pace with Real Madrid’s midfielders. The usually reliable Mohamed Salah also had an off-day, failing to make any significant impact on the game.
In contrast, Real Madrid’s midfield trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro were dominant throughout the game, controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the match. The trio’s ability to press high up the pitch and win the ball back quickly was key to their success, as they constantly disrupted Liverpool’s attacks and launched dangerous counter-attacks of their own.
Real Madrid’s approach
Real Madrid, on the other hand, were content to sit back and absorb Liverpool’s attacks, confident in the knowledge that they had a comfortable cushion of three goals from the first leg. Their defensive approach worked to perfection, with the likes of Sergio Ramos and Nacho Fernandez marshalling the defense with calmness and authority.
Real Madrid’s attack was also impressive, with Karim Benzema once again proving to be the difference-maker with his clinical finishing. The Frenchman’s goal in the second half was a fitting reward for his tireless work rate and intelligent movement off the ball.
Vinicius Junior was also a constant threat down the left flank, using his pace and trickery to get past Liverpool’s defenders and create scoring opportunities for his teammates. The Brazilian’s assist for Benzema’s goal was a testament to his growing maturity and composure on the ball.
Real Madrid’s victory was a result of their collective effort, with every player playing their part in a well-structured and disciplined performance. The team’s ability to adapt to different situations and play styles is a testament to their experience and quality, and bodes well for their chances of further success in the competition.
The game had several key moments that determined its outcome. The first key moment was in the sixth minute when Darwin Nunez missed an opportunity to put Liverpool ahead. If he had scored, the game could have been different.
The second key moment was when Real Madrid scored their only goal of the game. Vinicius Junior provided the assist, and Karim Benzema scored the goal to make it 1-0 in favor of Real Madrid. This goal effectively ended Liverpool’s chances of qualifying for the quarter-finals.
The third key moment was when Liverpool had a penalty appeal in injury time. Konstantinos Tsimikas was suspected of handling the ball in the penalty box, but the referee decided not to award a penalty to Liverpool after a review on the VAR.
The Importance of Modric and Casemiro
One of the key factors in Madrid’s success in this match was the performances of Modric and Casemiro. The two midfielders were excellent in their defensive duties, breaking up Liverpool’s attacks and denying them any space in midfield.
Modric, in particular, was outstanding, showcasing his ability to control the tempo of the game and dictate play from deep. The Croatian midfielder was a constant presence in midfield, intercepting passes, and making crucial tackles to prevent Liverpool from creating any meaningful chances.
Casemiro, meanwhile, provided the defensive cover for the backline, making crucial interceptions and tackles to prevent Liverpool’s attacking players from getting in behind. The Brazilian midfielder also showed his passing range, playing some incisive through balls to set up Madrid’s attacks.
The Front Three’s Clinical Finishing
Madrid’s front three of Vinicius Junior, Karim Benzema, and Marco Asensio were clinical in front of goal. Benzema, in particular, was in inspired form, scoring two goals and providing an assist to lead Madrid to victory.
Vinicius Junior and Asensio were also a constant threat, using their pace and trickery to run at Liverpool’s defense. Vinicius Junior, in particular, was a constant thorn in Liverpool’s side, using his blistering pace to get in behind the defense and create chances for himself and his teammates.
Real Madrid’s Game Plan
Real Madrid’s game plan was clear from the start. They sat back and allowed Liverpool to come at them, knowing that Liverpool would be vulnerable on the counter-attack. Madrid’s midfield trio of Luka Modric, Toni Kroos, and Casemiro did an excellent job of controlling the game’s tempo and playing the right passes to unleash their attacking trio of Karim Benzema, Vinicius Jr, and Marco Asensio.
Madrid’s first goal was a perfect example of their counter-attacking strategy. After a Liverpool corner, Madrid broke quickly, with Vinicius Jr leading the charge. He carried the ball deep into Liverpool’s half before laying it off to Kroos, who played a perfectly weighted through ball to Asensio. Asensio calmly finished past Alisson Becker to put Madrid 1-0 up.
Madrid’s second goal was another excellent counter-attacking move. After Liverpool’s attack broke down, Madrid quickly moved the ball forward, with Vinicius Jr once again leading the charge. He found himself in acres of space on the left-hand side and calmly slotted the ball past Alisson to put Madrid 2-0 up.
Madrid’s third goal came from a set-piece. Kroos whipped in a dangerous corner, and Benzema rose highest to head the ball into the net.
Overall, Madrid’s game plan was executed to perfection. They absorbed Liverpool’s pressure and hit them on the counter-attack, taking advantage of Liverpool’s high line of attack.
Liverpool’s Tactical Mistakes
Liverpool’s approach to the game was naive. They went all-out attack, hoping to replicate their famous comeback against Barcelona in the 2019 Champions League semi-final. However, their high line of attack was met with Madrid’s counter-attacking strategy, leaving them exposed at the back.
Liverpool’s midfield trio of Georginio Wijnaldum, Thiago Alcantara, and James Milner were unable to control the game’s tempo. Thiago, in particular, was ineffective, with Madrid’s midfield trio outplaying him in every department.
Jurgen Klopp’s decision to play four forwards was also a tactical mistake. Liverpool lacked midfield stability, which allowed Madrid to control the game’s tempo and expose Liverpool’s defence on the counter-attack.
Overall, Liverpool’s approach to the game was naive. They failed to adapt to Madrid’s counter-attacking strategy, and their high line of attack left them exposed at the back.
What Next for Liverpool?
Liverpool’s Champions League hopes are now over for another season. The defeat to Madrid means that they will finish the season without a trophy, which will be a huge disappointment for Jurgen Klopp and his players.
Liverpool’s focus now turns to the Premier League, where they face an uphill battle to finish in the top four. They currently sit sixth in the table, six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea, with just eight games remaining.
Liverpool’s next game is against Aston Villa, where they will be hoping to bounce back from their defeat to Madrid. Klopp will need to make some tactical adjustments to his team if they are to have any chance of finishing in the top four.
How Real Madrid Shut Down Liverpool’s Attack
Liverpool’s aggressive approach in the second leg was met by a disciplined and organized Real Madrid defense. The Spanish side played a high line of defense, preventing Liverpool’s forwards from making runs in behind and cutting off passing lanes. Real Madrid’s midfielders also put in a tireless shift, pressing Liverpool’s players when they had the ball and making it difficult for them to find space.
Real Madrid’s compact and narrow defensive shape made it hard for Liverpool to create chances. Their defenders were always in close proximity to each other, making it difficult for Liverpool’s attackers to find gaps in the defense. When Liverpool tried to play through the middle, they were met with a wall of defenders, forcing them to play wide.
Real Madrid’s fullbacks also played an important role in shutting down Liverpool’s attack. They pushed up high, forcing Liverpool’s wingers to drop deep and track back. This limited Liverpool’s attacking options and made it difficult for them to create chances.
How Real Madrid’s Attack Took Advantage of Liverpool’s Defense
Real Madrid’s attack was clinical and efficient. They took their chances when they came and were ruthless in front of goal. Real Madrid’s forwards were constantly on the move, making runs in behind Liverpool’s defense and exploiting the gaps left by Liverpool’s high line.
Real Madrid’s first goal came from a well-worked counterattack. Vinicius Jr. drove forward with the ball, drawing Liverpool’s defenders towards him before playing a perfectly weighted pass to Marco Asensio, who slotted the ball past Alisson.
Real Madrid’s second goal was a result of Liverpool’s high defensive line being caught out. Luka Modric played a through ball to Vinicius Jr., who beat Liverpool’s offside trap and rounded Alisson to score.
Real Madrid’s third goal was a result of a defensive mistake by Liverpool. Alisson played a poor pass out from the back, which was intercepted by Asensio, who squared the ball to Benzema to tap in.
What Liverpool Can Learn From This Defeat
Liverpool’s defeat to Real Madrid was a harsh lesson in the importance of balance in football. While Liverpool’s aggressive approach has been successful in the past, it can also leave them exposed at the back. Real Madrid’s clinical attack punished Liverpool for their defensive lapses and ruthlessly exploited the gaps in their high defensive line.
Liverpool must learn to strike a balance between attack and defense if they want to be successful in the future. They must also improve their squad depth, particularly in defense, where injuries have left them vulnerable this season.
Real Madrid’s victory over Liverpool was a testament to their experience and quality. They showed discipline and organization in defense and clinical efficiency in attack. Liverpool’s aggressive approach was met by a well-drilled and determined Real Madrid side that punished their defensive lapses.
While Liverpool’s defeat was a disappointment, it should serve as a valuable learning experience for the team. They must learn to strike a balance between attack and defense and improve their squad depth if they want to be successful in the future.