What Jurgen And The Team Should’ve Taken Notes On
The first of the UEFA European finals took place on Wednesday night, with Marseille facing Atletico Madrid in Lyon for the ‘secondary prize’ of European football.
It was an interesting game and actually one that turned out to have a lot more to it than I had anticipated. I had gone into the game fully expecting a 1-0 Atletico win, fancying their defensive ability to keep Marseille at bay. This was the case to an extent, but it was slightly more exciting than I’d initially thought.
With Kiev now just 8 days away at the time of writing, and, for me, university completely done and dusted for the year, it’s obvious now that all of my attention is on that game. 8 days isn’t a long time, but it still feels fucking miles away. However, upon watching the Europa League final, I actually thought there was a lot there that Liverpool could learn from that game and use to their advantage.
I actually think our game with Real Madrid is a very similar scenario to Marseille vs Atletico. While I think we are much closer in quality to Real than Marseille are to Atletico, I think everyone will admit that on paper, Real are a better side than us. They have a squad full of multiple European Cup winners, who’ve played for several of the biggest clubs in the world, and there are even a handful of players who’ve had top successes at an international level too. This Liverpool squad is for sure capable of those achievements, but right now we’re certainly lacking the experience that Real do for sure.
Marseille started the Europa League final very brightly. They had a lot of possession and created a couple of opportunities. One fell to Valerie Germain inside 4 minutes, where Dimitri Payet slotted him through into the box and he skied the effort over the bar. This didn’t appear to dishearten Marseille too much, as they still continued to boss the opening 15 minutes.
I think Liverpool can find themselves in a very similar situation in Kiev. Marseille have also been praised for their pace in attack this season- the speed at which they go forward is their strong suit. It was clear that Atletico’s plan in the early stages of that game was to sit a bit deep, weather storm and look to feel their way into the match later in the game.
As it happens, they were gifted a goal after 20 minutes when Andre Zambo Anguissa (who actually had a decent game overall) failed to control a pass out from the back by his goalkeeper, and ultimately let Griezmann in for a chance he wasn’t going to miss. Had Atletico not been gifted this goal, we may have been looking at a different game, and it goes without saying that Liverpool shouldn’t be planning on gifting any goals to Real on the 26th.
However Atletico then became almost an entirely different side. Once they had the lead, you never felt they were going to lose it. Marseille lost Payet to injury after half an hour which was a major blow, but as soon as they were ahead, Atletico knew how to boss the game. I fear that if Liverpool go a goal behind, and Real Madrid start to get on the ball and really turn it on, it’s perfectly plausible that we end up in a similar situation to Marseille, where the “stronger” team roll out comfortable winners. I’m not saying that this will definitely be the case. We’ve got the talent and fearless nature to win, just like Marseille did, but the importance of not handing the opposition any help was desperately outlined in Lyon on Wednesday night.
We really don’t want to find ourselves in a situation where we are chasing the game too much. I think Real will take a similar approach to their city-rivals in this game. I think they’ll be well aware of our pace going forward and will look to stop the conceding of an early goal. After the first 20 minutes are out of the way they may then start coming out a little bit more and start looking for a goal themselves. Either this, or they will try and hang onto the game long enough for the benches to become a factor. It’s rather obvious that they will have much better options regarding substitutes than Liverpool, and that could be our kryptonite, particularly if the game goes to extra-time.
From our perspectives however there are some positives in this department. The fact that Dom Solanke scored against Brighton and now he doesn’t have to go and get his first Liverpool goal in a Champions League final is a big help, and the return of Adam Lallana to fitness couldn’t have been timed better. He has had a good couple of weeks in Marbella with the squad to work up some match fitness following the cameo vs Brighton, and I fully expect him to have some involvement in Kiev.
But going back to Wednesday night, I think that game will have been a fascinating watch for Jurgen Klopp and his squad, who will have gotten plenty out of it. The most important lesson I think is to make our likely early spell of pressure count. If we get chances, we simply have to take them, and to be fair the evidence of this season suggests that we will.
Real Madrid are guaranteed to get chances in this game, and we know that they’re going to take them. The question is that, when they do, will we be protecting a lead or essentially letting the game get away from us?
If we learn from where Marseille failed in that game on Wednesday, I think we’ll take a massive step to lifting number 6. My gut feeling is that we’re going to see Jordan Henderson up on that podium lifting the trophy at the end of the night, not Sergio Ramos.
One final thing- if I see any of our players touching that trophy as they walk out of the tunnel, I will flip out!
Article by Ben Kelly @bkelly776
For more Redmen TV content including podcasts, subscriber exclusives and three new shows every week subscribe now and get your first month for FREE bit.ly/RMTVjoin