Video analysis final Champions League Real Madrid-Liverpool
May 31, 2018, 9:40 a.m.
Real Madrid demonstrated again why the Champions League is their favorite competition and won their third consecutive cup, getting the thirteenth of their track record -something no other team has been able to achieve so far.
Our tactical analysis starts with an initial situation in which Liverpool put the White team in great trouble with a high pressure by their offensive trident (Mané-Firmino-Salah). They prevented Madrid from playing the ball out from their field, forcing the centrals to play outside or shooting long balls. Madrid was losing more balls than usual, the sides were having less participation and depth than their team required. But everything began to change when the main star of Liverpool, Salah, was injured.
From that moment on, Liverpool, at that point displaying a defensive layout of 1-4-3-3, withdrew and displayed a 1-4-4-2 that gave Madrid greater freedom to build their attacks.
The game was much even until the Liverpool goalkeeper made a mistake and the scoreboard changed to 1-0, favouring the Madrid. A quick reaction from the whole "Reds" made them score, but joy didn’t last long: Madrid, with more options on the bench and a better physical condition in the last 30 minutes, dominated all the phases of the game and got ahead in the scoreboard and ended up sentencing the match with six minutes before the end.
The initial alignments did not show big surprises. Zidane had more options available, but opted to repeat the same team that played last year's final in Cardiff. On the other hand, Kloop displayed the same line-up that played throughout the entire season.
Madrid’s main idea was possessions the ball and, despite they started the game facing great difficulties to control the game and create danger in attack, little by little Madrid started to find the opportunities.
The first variable is to locate Toni Kroos on the left wing to have the rival winger come out to mark him. As a result, Madrid creates superiority with Marcelo going deep and Benzema and Isco coming to the wings.
Benzema’s performance was outstanding, with a remarkable first half and a second half that was only overshadowed by Gareth Bale’s goals. The french player understood the team’s need to be clean and successful when playing the ball -and that’s why he would set back to look for the superiority in the central zone.
Liverpool’s high pressure was focused on covering Madrid’s plays in the center field, something that made Liverpool’s wingers follow Madrid’s centrals, often leaving them too far from the ball to look for a possible transition. As a consequence, the Madrid played near the wings, where they sometimes found the potential to approach the rival goal.
The match demanded a serious defensive commitment from Madrid’s players, since they were facing one of the teams that scored the most, and generated many offensive occasions thanks to their extraordinary forwards. To defend, Madrid displayed a 1-4-4-2 with Ronaldo and Benzema pressuring the centrals and making them play long, without letting them pass the ball in the center field.
Liverpool placed their wingers up filed, coming out from the center to gain the spaces left by the wingers. This way, Liverpool gathered many players in the upper field and, as a consequence, Casemiro had to play near his defending zone, at some points joining 4 other players in backline. Central were occupied in marking wingers while Casemiro was supposed to take care of Firmino, who had a hard time receiving and playing, and also turning to look for the wingers speed when they run towards the free space.
Another factor that Madrid had to keep an eye on was the defensive transition once they lost the ball. Liverpool has always stood out because they are amongst Europe’s best. Madrid players had to really apply themselves and put pressure on the areas where they lost the ball, players farthest from that zone kept an eye on Liverpool attackers -who were extremely vertical and wanted to win their backs.
The game had many highlights and each team had their moment. Both of them knew each other very well and had prepared for this encounter -something that minimised the other tam virtues. Goals came from isolated plays or exceptional mistakes.