There was no discussion: an absorbing Real Madrid shook a scruffy Liverpool. He fell short, but such was the white superiority that even Vinicius became an optimist of the goal. A night that you will not forget. The goal twinned him on one of those days that have a universal echo.
Vinicius was the greatest exponent of a Madrid that initially subdued his rival, penalized him for every mistake, which was not a few, and avoided the flood of visitors when Salah sealed the 2-1. A round, mature and complete Real that could have closed the tie. For football mysteries, Klopp’s team can still ruminating on a comeback.
Initially, it was a management and administration symposium. He was summoned by Real Madrid, a Caesarist in his management of the game. It did not require a Versailles match to reduce Liverpool to ashes, turned into a jug for the impeccable process of the whites. Because it is flawless when a team closes a first half with two goals in the backpack, generates a couple of more occasions, does not grant a single warning to its goalkeeper and mummifies its most disturbing opponents (Salah, Mané). And with a first foul committed in the 34th minute! An expert opinion typical of those encyclopedic teams, set in a thousand similar battles.
Such was the derision that Klopp ordered a relief three minutes before the break. The German put Keita on the target and gave Thiago a field. The German coach, who was so talkative, didn’t give a damn about skipping one of the most elementary codes in football. That’s how things were for Liverpool.
Both groups departed with patched defenses. Liverpool have been dodging the casualties of Van Dijk, Gomez and Matip for a long time. Suddenly, Zidane was left without Varane -covid-, loss added to those of Carvajal and Sergio Ramos. The Real did not flinch, firm, the ranks tight. The panoply of Klopp’s group was bizarre. Without their centurions on duty, Liverpool no longer overwhelm with those continuous outbursts that made them defend forward because they had two first-rate guards – Van Dijk, Gomez. Today, it neither comes nor goes.
At Di Stéfano, it took Liverpool 50 minutes to pretend that it was Liverpool, in the world football nomenclature for half a century. Without rhythm and with knotted boots, his staging was clumsy. More than one sprain carried the ball, hurting the feet of the Klopp boys. Bad business when there are guys from Casemiro’s trade, from Modric’s expertise, from Vinicius’s freshness, from Benzema’s class … And from the great Kroos observatory.
Behind the visiting rear there were bargains. A Courtois serve was enough for Vinicius, after an extraordinary control, to threaten the English team. With a rear guard of altar boys, even Vinicius almost caught a goal from the head. Matter of time. Kroos is not Courtois. German has nonius on the insteps. From his own field, the German, who monitored the game, put Vinicius in the race, who after a chest do to cushion the ball sent Alisson to the crawl.
Such was the disaster of the reds that what Madrid was not in charge of, they were already taking care of. Alexander-Arnold, let’s say. It’s a lateral with forceps. Precise for the attack, orthopedic for the trench. The man cleared his head towards his corral without noticing the presence of Asensio. A delicate mince on Alisson, very one of those that have illustrated Messi, and to toast (2-0). Liverpool’s grotesque in the first act closed with another blunder. Of Kabak, but Alisson, of fluke, deflected Asensio’s shot. At rest, a Real in fullness; a Liverpool to the dark room.
A breath of air seemed to warn the Mersey team when, after the truce, Thiago bought him the ball for a while. Another chicha. He was not the genuine Liverpool, but he was already a distant relative. Thus came his first and only auction. Casemiro jumped to the pressure, did not arrive and a foray of Diogo Jota concluded with a rebound and the first footprint of Salah. Lucas avoided the offside. Suddenly, out of nowhere, Liverpool found themselves in the tie. It seemed that the turnaround of the game was real when Mendy crossed over to Mané, heading for a draw. A mirage.
The English team resisted what it took Vinicius to return to center stage. Asensio had a shot at a counter, but missed the pass. Liverpool, once again calamitous, did their thing. A simple throw-in, with the visitors in the dark, led Modric to meet Vinicius. The Brazilian fired and Alisson was soft.
Vinicius left exhausted and Madrid lost some horizon. It was the moment of Lucas, Militao, Nacho … In this Madrid everyone added. In this Liverpool many, many, remained. As many merits of some as demerits of others. Anfield, with Liverpool as a solo walker, will dictate sentence.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.