The European champions league is definitely the best club competition in the world and winning it, is the holy grail in club football.
Many had predicted a record-setting “quadruple Trophy” season for Liverpool just some days ago. i.e., the European champions league, English Premier League, F.A Cup, and the League cup.
But as the curtain to the 2022 Champions League final match, came crashing down yesterday night in Paris, the season ended in tears of defeat for Liverpool and wonder if not a shock for some, but not for everyone! It was Real Madrid who ended up with a season Treble to its name.
Real Madrid, coached by the legendary Carlo Ancellotti, won its 7th consecutive Champions League Final and an all-time record total, of 14 champions league titles. But before we dive into the tactical breakdown of how they carried out this Victory over Liverpool yesterday, let’s take a note of how they got here.
Real Madrid had to dig deep to eliminate defending champions Chelsea at the quarter-finals level and when most counted them out at the semi-finals stage versus Manchester city, trailing and needing two goals to qualify at the tail end of the 2nd leg match, coach Ancellotti made some decisive, courageous substitutions that provoked victory for Real Madrid and it was game over, for Man. City.
Coming into the final, Liverpool were clear favorites. Liverpool is renowned for its physical and aggressive play, built around a compact central defense, a solid defensive midfielder, with 2 full backs in Andrew Robertson and Trent Arnold, who never cease to multiply attacking overlapping runs, deadly pull-outs from the wings, coupled with two deadly offensive players in Sadio Mane and Mo Salah.
Carlo Ancelotti’s first recipe for victory was the lineup he put out. Each player in every position for Real Madrid had qualities and played in a mode, that was in an “Antidote” style to their direct Liverpool opponent.
Defensively, the combination of David Alaba, Militao, Mendy, and Carvajal played in a manner that had them defending by going forwards by anticipation, cutting off space for the Liverpool attack. The end result? Liverpool got dangerous strikes at goal, but, it was never without a hurry as they were pressed!
Liverpool’s offensive threat comes mainly from the fullbacks who play as wingers. By fielding Valverde on Real’s right side, Ancellotti countered, by not only playing a player who had pace going forward, good on 1v 1 but most importantly, Valverde is excellent in physical endurance and can trackback defensively, all the way down with Robertson and deter pull-outs from Liverpool’s left side.
This neutralized greatly Liverpool’s offensive threat from the left. The same to a lesser extent was done on Real Madrid’s left side on Alexander Arnold by Vinicius, intentionally in a lesser manner, to leave Vinicius fresh enough to counterattack and hurt Liverpool offensively.
At the end of the day, Real Madrid‘s winning goal came off a counterattack move by Valverde that saw him put in, a shot-cross that Vinicius tucked in for the winning goal.
Football at the top level requires a Top class goalkeeper that wins points for you, and boy oh boy, Real Madrid’s star goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois delivered a perfect game to deprive Liverpool of any goals. His saves on deadly strikes by Mo Salah and Sadio Mané in my opinion demoralized the Liverpool machine. Little wonder he was voted man of the match.
At the end of the day, the better team won and Carlo Ancellotti moved clear as the record champions league winning coach with 4 trophies,2 different clubs, and several different generations of players!
I honestly believe that the humble act of Carlo Ancellotti to sacrifice possession to some extent to Liverpool, but stubborn enough to still try to play out from the back, even though Liverpool pressed high, with a point striker in the world-class Karim Benzema constantly roaming, disoriented Liverpool’s grip on the Madrid offensive.
Of course, at the end of the day, Real Madrid was also a bit lucky to win, but it was not sheer luck that carried the ball into Liverpool’s net for victory, Vinicius had to make the effort to strike it in too.
Fortune favors the brave and those who Persevere. Bravo Madrid, you are deserved champions of Europe club sides.