How Klopp’s Liverpool Can Beat Real Madrid In The Champions League Final
At the start of the season, had someone said that Jordan Henderson and his Liverpool side would be playing in the finals of the Champions League, they would have probably been dismissed as a deluded football fan.
Fast forward a few months down the line and Liverpool have been wreaking havoc across Europe. Granted, they have faced easier teams on paper as opposed to Real Madrid who had to confront the likes of PSG, Juventus and Bayern Munich to get to the final. However, let’s not take anything away from this Liverpool side who can beat anyone on their day.
They eased past Premier League Champions Manchester City and giant killers Roma, who made a stunning 3-0 comeback against Barcelona in the quarterfinals. Liverpool are now the all-time leading goalscorers in a single Champions League campaign (40) and also hold the record for the most goals scored by an attacking trio (Mane, Firmino and Salah).
However, how can this Liverpool team beat a Madrid side that has now lifted the trophy for two consecutive years and a stunning 12 times since its inception?
Heavy-metal is the way to go
Liverpool are known for their exuberant and noisy attacking style that can punish teams mercilessly. “Heavy metal football”, was what the manager infamously called it in an interview just as he made the move to Anfield. Jurgen Klopp never sits back against any opposition and a similar approach can be expected from the Reds.
His high-intensity press can prove vital in this game. At times, both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane have looked vulnerable in defence, often being caught out of position. This is something Roberto Firmino preys on. He feeds off defenders’ mistakes and immediately looks to supply the ball to the wings and initiate the counter-attack.
Madrid have two of the best wing-backs in the form of Marcelo and Carvajal, though the latter is just coming out of an injury, which is something Sadio Mane could benefit from.
Madrid also have one of the most daunting midfield trios in Modric, Isco, and Kroos, who are often instrumental in Real’s victories. It is vital that they are closed down quickly by the Liverpool midfielders.
If given too much time on the ball, they are capable of punishing any team with their defence-splitting passes and ankle-breaking dribbles. Oxlade Chamberlain’s injury will surely be a huge loss to the Liverpool side as he was just starting to show some form under Klopp. Nevertheless, Wijnaldum has deputised well in his absence.
Milner has been in exceptional form in the Champions League this season, leading the assists charts. He has been the engine and heart of the pressing game in midfield and should close down Modric and Kroos every time they get on the ball. Henderson should resort to a deeper role so that he can pick up the ball and look to play it forward with his wide range of passing.
Someone give Klopp’s team a right hand
Liverpool’s defensive frailties have caused them a lot of trouble this season, often conceding poor goals from sloppy mistakes. The addition of Virgil Van Dijk in the January transfer window and the performances of the young Andy Robertson have eased the pain a little but it is the right-hand side of the Liverpool defence that has often looked fragile.
Dejan Lovren’s Liverpool career has been an up and down roller-coaster ride with no real consistency in his game. With Joel Matip and Joe Gomez out for the season, Klopp has no real backup in the centre-back department, only being able to call upon a veteran Ragnar Klavan when required.
Trent-Alexander Arnold has shown lots of potential this season but his lack of experience leads to him being caught out of position. While his attacking displays have been impressive, his defensive abilities still need some work. Klopp can call upon a fit-again Clyne if required but he barely has any momentum in him due to his prolonged absence this season.
Liverpool’s defence will need to be well drilled and organised if they are to stop a resurgent Cristiano Ronaldo, who has been on fire since the turn of the year. Both Cristiano and Salah are the current frontrunners for this year’s Ballon d’Or. The game will surely prove to be entertaining and the goals will galore.
It’s been a long and adventurous journey for both clubs, who will face each other at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on 26th May. Surely, it’s a game that no football fan can afford to miss.