???️ Sevilla V Liverpool Analysis

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Snippet: – Liverpool surrendered their 3 goal lead at Sevilla in a crucial Champions League game. The first half was all about the Reds defending in good numbers and breaking forward at pace to cause many problems for the hosts. Two moments of planned corner routine scored by Firmino and Mane got the visitors into a strong position. Moments later, a Sadio Mane run and Firmino’s open goal tap seemed to have made the game safe. But, Sevilla had other ideas, the manager made some changes and it worked to treat. Liverpool sat off their pace allowing their opponents to attack and with some poor defensive mistakes, the Spanish side got two back in a trice. Klopp, in reaction, made his changes to stabilize the game but his team couldn’t hold out for a win in the end. This means Liverpool have to play their strongest eleven in their last match-day to qualify as group winners. First Half: – If we analyse the first half, it was all about Sevilla being susceptible on the ball and Liverpool assured on and off the ball. The home side were surprised with the fast start of Klopp’s men. The pressing was not very high and rather it had good shape of the formation to it. The front three took turns to be narrow when likes of Stephen N’Zonzi, Ever Banega had the ball so that the build-ups are well pressed. If the ball is played wide, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah were disciplined enough to go with the runners all the time. Since, Sevilla played almost everything in front of Liverpool, it was easy to defend and chances of counter-attack was always an option. The first Reds’ goal came as early as the 2nd minute when a well-worked corner routine was executed to perfection. A near post flick and no one from Sevilla picking up the far post man, Roberto Firmino had an easy task to finish home. The home side then tried to switch plays consistently to isolate their wingers with opposition fullbacks. Rather, both the wingers Nolito and Sarabia came narrow at times which made it difficult. Ben Yedder was out of the game most of the first half. Liverpool pressed their midfield build-up to perfection with either of Firmino or Coutinho pressing their playmaker Banega, Salah and Mane took turns to follow up that press. The other 6 players were well behind the ball giving security and license to the front men. The build-up to the second goal came from a counter-attack as expected, when Henderson won the ball on half-way line and played a simple through ball to Firmino. It was all too easy as the high defensive Sevilla line were at sixes and sevens. The Brazilian’s attempt was well parried by the goalkeeper for another corner. To everyone’s surprise, Liverpool scored from the same corner routine again. Everything of that corner was same with personnel change. This time it was Firmino who flicked the ball from near post and Mane was unmarked far post to head home. You have got to say it was naive defending and very good set-piece analysis from Liverpool management staff. The second goal took the sting out of the Sevilla tail and the whole stadium. Liverpool were in control of everything defensively and also comfortable playing on the counter. Moments later, the third goal was scored, when a simple long ball in the channel was played and Mane got in behind. The Senegalese shot was initially saved by Sergio Rico and fell kindly to Firmino to finish home in an open net. This goal was another example of how you counter a team having more possession. Liverpool players had a great telepathic understanding of when to narrow and press, and when to keep the defensive shape intact.     Second Half: – If the second half of this game needs to be explained in one sentence, then just read the first half analysis and reverse the roles. Sevilla manager made a clever change by subbing N’Zonzi off and bringing Vazquez, a number 10 to support an isolated Ben Yedder. Liverpool came out with a mindset of controlling the game with or mostly without the ball. That plan took a first major hit when Moreno clumsily fouls Sarabia and the resulting free-kick was an easy header for Ben Yedder near post across the zonal marking. The culprit was Moreno again as he allowed his man to go across him at first place. This goal enabled Sevilla and their fans to have more belief. At this point of time, all Liverpool needed to do was to just be calm off the ball and remain calmer when the ball is given to them. They did the absolute opposite of both the things. The midfield looked out of shape all of a sudden chasing shadows with due credit to Sevilla for moving the ball at a much quicker rate. When they received the ball, likes of Coutinho, Firmino and Salah struggled to hold it up. The ball was lumped forward and they tried to play one two touch passes to make the counter attack. They failed to realise that the pace of the game has been changed and clever heads are required. The second goal from Sevilla was all Moreno’s fault as everyone said when the left-back gave away a penalty miscontrolling a pass. The fact that Coutinho gave him a terrible ball at the edge of the box under pressure was more naïve. That pass had more pace and it caught the beleaguered left-back on his heels. Klopp was reactive to this situation by replacing the culprits Coutinho and Moreno with experience of James Milner and solidity of Emre Can. This allowed Liverpool to have a little grab of the situation. In all of this, Firmino was unable to hold up the ball and maybe the manager could have brought on someone like Sturridge as a proper striker who could have held the ball up more. Instead, the front three tried to be inventive whenever the ball was cleared to them enabling Sevilla to pick their pockets and go on another attack. This made things very uncomfortable for the visitors with home side pushing and pushing. Chances arrived for Liverpool to finish off the game but vital last-ditch challenges saved the hosts. Finally, after loads of pushing, Sevilla managed to score the equaliser from another set-piece. A corner was fed to the near post where a Liverpool defender couldn’t clear the ball far. It fell to Pizzaro at the penalty area and the midfielder just poked home the most dramatic equaliser in a long time. In all honesty, Liverpool shot themselves in the foot not to play in the way they played the first 45 minutes. What made them think the game is over is beyond the dreams. Even if they would have managed to play the first 20 minutes of the second half like they did in the first, the game could have been well safe. Giving two early goals set them back and allowed the home side to be adventurous on every attempt. This is not first time it has happened to Liverpool, remember Crystal Palace, Bournemouth, and Southampton. Something needs to change and it has to be done quickly or otherwise we may not see Liverpool winning trophies in the next 5 years. Game management and defensive solidity when the pressure is high are the two basic things which a manager needs to instill in his players whenever they’re playing a high quality opposition or playing in a difficult away stadium. Learning and development needs to quicken up or another season with empty hands might get away. Article by Mizgan Masani
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