From Kroos and Vinicius to Nacho and Militão. Nothing to do with the return leg, but Madrid came out triumphant from both appointments. A round Real at Di Stéfano and referred to Courtois and his sentinels at Anfield. His bravery was of no use to Liverpool. At home he had left over. What is not left over is talent. He has lost tonnage, he no longer vibrates like a couple of courses ago and he lacks imbalance, especially when he has to articulate the attack and cannot fly. A survival exercise already has Madrid in the semifinal, with Chelsea in the waiting room, and Manchester City and PSG on a possible final horizon.
One week apart and two unrecognizable teams. Neither Liverpool was as rough and clumsy as in Di Stéfano nor Madrid as categorical as in the first leg. Not much less.
Initially, the whites were surrounded by Klopp’s boys, this time a Liverpool with a roll up and a tusk. In the first blinks of the game Valverde was already suffering – improvised lateral – Benzema had a boot burst, Mendy the ball had made a couple of mocking bows … And even Kroos seemed a very distant relative of Kroos . Modric did not emit signals and Vinicius and Asensio only rowed backwards.
The only fetén version: Courtois. Two minutes later, the Belgian deflected a point-blank tito from Salah with his left foot after Mané won the back of Valverde and Militão. And before the quarter of an hour the Madrid goalkeeper took a pole to tap a distant shot and with a hemlock from Milner. Nothing anchored a Real who saw himself as an outsider. Even the distinguished medullary squad — Casemiro, Kroos, Modric — was stranded.
Liverpool, with another ardor, was going in waves, but it is no longer that perpetual cyclone of a couple of seasons ago. It is no longer a herd of crocodiles. He always liked running more than playing, but he is no longer so fine and today he feels vulnerable with a pair of orthopedic centers.
In Valdebebas, Madrid took great advantage of the crater in the rear red. Not in silent Anfield. Far from wanting to exploit the Kabak and Phillips vein, the Zidane team wanted the time to decrease too soon. A Real more occupied by the chrono hands than by sending an adversary sewn with tweezers in the trench as soon as possible. At times, Madrid, too conservative, managed to anesthetize the game, give it a bland air that lowered the rival’s spirits.
Time, great ally
Only once were the whites stretched before the truce. Benzema accelerated after a blunder by Phillips, a central knotted foot, and when he called Vinicius with a clear goal, the pass bounced off Kabak and ended at the left post of Alisson’s local goal. Not much else did Vinicius and Asensio venture, more predisposed to Valverde and Mendy for first aid.
Without a trace, Real Madrid, who did not find who illustrated him, Liverpool closed the first act with another arreón. Salah and Wijnaldum missed two shots inside the area. And shortly before, Firmino was not right with a terminal assistance to Alexander-Arnold. Madrid was hung with tweezers.
As in the first period, in the continuation there was no better ally of Zidane’s team than time. The tic tac in his favor. In such a playful game, throwing the dice in the air is always a risk. It was assumed by Madrid, subject to his less familiar line, the defense.
Strangely, Kroos and Modric did not warm the team with the ball. And Vinicius did not threaten either, the same one who put the English rear in check in the first leg. Alisson responded very well to one of the Brazilian’s few runs, thrown at his feet and then at Benzema’s.
Klopp chimed in on the hour. Bugle call for all cavalry. Thiago and Jota relieved Milner and Kabak. He had no other choice. Madrid, reduced to their ranch, clenched their jaw, with Nacho and Militão clearing out with Casemiro’s escort. Two giants throughout the tie. At Liverpool, a lot of commotion from Mané and Salah and a battery of centers from Alexander-Arnold and Robertson. Thiago did not weigh in the game. It does not end up fitting into a set that is heavy metal. The Spanish international has another cadence.
Zidane also moved chips, with Odriozola for Kroos – Valverde went to the center of the field – and Rodrygo for Vinicius. Curious, the dance couple from the first leg (Kroos and Vinicius) to the rostrum. Eloquent symptom of the twist between the round trip. The clock was wearing down Liverpool, which was diluted until the end, blocked by the visiting centurions, now without spirit and without legs. Boosted by the great rival of the first game, the resistance of a much more wrinkled Madrid gave Zidane’s men the semifinal against Chelsea. In the mythical Anfield, it was enough for him to survive from the start and shoot automatically later.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.