Steve Nicol believes Liverpool’s Achilles heel is Real Madrid were their defensive inexperience in the first leg (1:26)

Football fans and pundits seem to like to turn everything into a punchline these days, but don’t hesitate to laugh at those who quickly joke: “Well, Liverpool have had the taste of beating the teams in the Liga at Anfield judging by this Barcelona team in the 2019 semifinals so not much here! “

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Let’s be crystal clear: While Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Real Madrid is significantly better than the 3-0 loss (almost 4-0 without the ineptitude of Ousmane Dembele in the dying seconds) at the Camp Nou two years ago Jurgen Klopp’s side played infinitely, almost indescribably better that night in Catalonia

It was a night when you must have been wondering: “How the hell did Liverpool not win at Camp Nou? Too bad lose 3-0?”

Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg loss was a game where the reigning Premier League champions and 2019 Champions League winners were mostly innocuous and often atrocious

Liverpool not only lacked the basics of football, but either abandoned the core parts of their DNA since Klopp took over, or felt utterly incapable of playing with the hunger and intensity of rock’n ‘roll that made them both famous and successful

One night that if Trent Alexander-Arnold hadn’t excelled twice, to blunt Marco Asensio’s huge opportunities this tie would have been put to bed, told a soporific story and snore softly

Using the word ‘atrocious’ is strong But it is deserved here not only by normal Liverpool standards, but by any basic football barometer

Football lives and breathes analysis now, especially at a time when it seems like every club on a moderate budget can tell you what opposition players had for breakfast and where they plan to spend their vacation next summer – not to mention their strengths and weaknesses in the field

So every member of Liverpool’s coaching and playing squad will have known three very specific things about Toni Kroos

First, if you give him time and space, he can throw a soccer ball at a small dime 75 yards away and, honestly, if you ask him to perform that trick the blindfolded, he will take away your pocket money if you bet against him to manage it

Third, if you run “past” him, with or without a ball, he will disdainfully choose not to run with you in the hope that someone else, often Casemiro, will do the job of the blue collar prosecution , harass and attack

Alejandro Moreno explains how Vinicius Junior was able to influence Real Madrid’s 3-1 win over Liverpool

When Liverpool allowed Real Madrid to calm their nerves (remember, they were missing Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal, Raphael Varane and have yet to tap into the huge potential of Eden Hazard’s partnership with Karim Benzema ) and establishing a two-goal lead, it was as if the Liverpool players had never seen or heard of Kroos before

Their pitch positions, body language, languid complacency were like, “Yeah! Go on Blondie! Just try to throw a ball in search of heat against our world class defense”

The former is remarkable Especially since the owners of Liverpool are Fenway Sports Group Its Boston offices are located approximately 30 miles from the home of the NFL New England Patriots in Foxborough, Massachusetts, which is a venue for Reverence because the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era showed what a great quarterback can accomplish

Which begs the question: who thought it was a good idea to leave Kroos Madrid quarterback in such a dominant position?

The 2014 World Cup winner with Germany fell deep for that first goal, then did with his right boot what Brady does when he throws laser-guided touchdown passes

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None of them are well positioned in terms of position, none of them communicate to the others that Kroos needs to be shut down, none of them make a desperate run to try to prevent the No of Madrid 8 for having had time to make a sandwich, to phone his wife, to trace the geometry of his world-class pass, and then to deliver the ball not only on the run of Vinicius, but on the coat of arms of Real Madrid to left of his chest

These three players, whose job it was to make life uncomfortable, appeared to have faces to match the red color of their jerseys as they watched the young Brazilian score brilliantly for Madrid’s opener on the night

Klopp’s tolerance boiled over after the second example when Kroos, once again deep in his own half but this time to the left, regained possession

He must have expected to hear the thunder of hooves His lizard brain must have said to him: “Watch out, you are about to be trampled on by a typical and energetic Klopp-Liverpool press get ready to unload the safe ball and take the recovery position! “

I swear I saw disbelief on Klopp’s face when he took a look and realized the same was happening again

This time, it was the duty of Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita, in terms of football, to suffocate the Madrid pass-master Neglect reigned again

But Alexander-Arnold was off balance, didn’t judge the pass stealing well enough to get clear instead of helping the Mallorcan who scored his third goal in three games with a juggler kick on the Alisson’s advanced whose goal was not true and which left Asensio inflating an empty net for 2-0

If you subtract the two minutes of celebration for Madrid’s second goal and the roughly one it took to replace Thiago with Keita once the former Bayern Munich and Barcelona player was ready to come in, he About three minutes elapsed between Keita shutting Kroos off and him being whipped off the pitch by Klopp, who had seen enough

Asked after the game about replacing Keita, the decent and still honest Liverpool manager admitted: “No he’s not injured, that was tactical I know it’s a big story now, but I could have taken out a couple of other players instead because we didn’t play good football tonight “

From a neutral point of view, so god knows how engaged Liverpool lovers (long haired or not) feel, it underscored how much Liverpool were playing out of character that the second half proved that they knew precisely where Kroos’ Achilles heel lies

Liverpool’s goal stems from what the German on Zinedine Zidane’s pitch hates the most: being asked to turn around, chase and sweat

Wijnaldum, no doubt berated by what had happened to his cohort of midfielder Keita, rushed into space to receive the ball, noticed that Kroos was not interested in following him and so embarked on an odyssey

Through the green meadow, he jumped, leaping and frolicking easily past Casemiro’s lunge and perhaps the paper-thin challenge that Eder Militao offered Jota once Wijnaldum gave him. the ball was a clue that the stripped Madrid defense were even more prone to embarrass themselves – – if the visitors kept doing the things they knew, deep down they should

Jota’s job fed Salah, and the Egyptian stubbornly fished the bullet out of a tangle of legs to knock it off the bass

And then Liverpool took a break They didn’t keep up the pace, they didn’t really manage another shot on Thibaut Courtois’ goal but, above all, they didn’t test the chin of the Champions of ‘Spain

As they drove home to John Lennon Airport in Merseyside, they would have added salt to their injuries if they could hear the sounds of the great man’s hit single: “Imagine”

Imagine that at 2-1 the English champions burned their lungs, strained every muscle, chased, harassed and chased Los Blancos like puppies chasing loose tennis balls? Do you imagine that they would be “in a hurry” as before?

What the last fifteen minutes are telling us now is that Liverpool, although their coach admits playing, could have won the game like this

Long before the final whistle seemed to take an elusive time for Madrid to arrive, Zidane’s side were, to use a British word, stunned

They missed tackles, they offered the ball away, they were confined in their own final third not because it was their adopted strategy, but because their hero players, Benzema, Luka Modric , Kroos, Casemiro, Lucas Vazquez, were spent

The key was that Liverpool were too pale a knockoff after going 2-1 and fell asleep for the goal which gave Madrid a cushion advantage they could successfully defend at Anfield next week

Following a throw-in, for God’s sake, (page 1 of the How To Defend manual) Fabinho lost his concentration, victim of what you hear yelling on the sidelines of every amateur match everywhere in the world “Keep your eye on your man don’t go chasing the ball !!”

Unfortunately for Fabinho, Nathaniel Phillips and the Liverpool goalkeeper too, it is a decree that the former Brazilian midfielder from Madrid has ignored

One way or another, Fabinho committed the cardinal sin of being in a bad position to shut Modric to the edge of the Liverpool box when, at all costs, visitors had to defend themselves in a tabby way

Fabinho’s stance, balance and attention span were all kaput the moment he realized he had fed the beast and Vinicius, possibly enjoying his best game yet for Real, the first pass of Modric in the legs of Phillips and under the dive of his international teammate Alisson

Klopp said, after admitting that Salah gave Liverpool a lifeline: “If you want to go to the semi-finals you have to earn the right to do it “We didn’t do that – especially in the first half”

They’re not down But going back to the start of the report, don’t compare that to when Liverpool maimed Barcelona to an inch from their dignity a few seasons ago Times and energy levels have changed and that fierce, messianic atmosphere, which Barcelona players still reverently speak of, will be absent Sadly

A few things keep this tie alive The away goal and the very obvious fact that at the end of the game, Madrid’s key players were running empty

Then they have Barcelona in an ultra-crucial Clasico on Saturday and there’s no chance Ramos, or presumably Varane, will return next week

For now, and even though Liverpool were largely willing co-conspirators in their own downfall, it was another night when Zidane, his extremely experienced field lieutenants and a very special young man, Vinicius, 20 years, proven that if you let your guard down, they’ll leave you behind and head to the next round in the blink of an eye

It’s Madrid They think this tournament and the trophy are theirs – can Liverpool disillusion them with the notion next week? Not like that

Real Madrid v Liverpool, Real Madrid, Liverpool, Real Madrid vs Liverpool

World News – FI – Kroos the main difference factor as Real Madrid thwart lackluster Liverpool

Source: https://www.espn.com/soccer/uefa-champions-league/story/4353792/kroos-the-key-difference-maker-as-real-madrid-thwart-lacklustre-liverpool