The past couple of weeks were marked by some big decisions on the 8th finals of the Champions League. Defending the title, Liverpool had the task of recovering from a disadvantage brought from Spain against Atlético, and on a breathtaking encounter, they’ve crumbled against the strong Spanish defence.
Liverpool playing in their usual style
The season that Liverpool has been having in 2019/2020 is, without a doubt, one of the best of the club’s recent history. The results are spectacular and in the Premier League, they simply put on a show of how to be a top team.
I’ve been saying, however, that sometimes Liverpool changed their initial characteristics and slowed down the pace of the match, only doing just enough to win. Of course they’ve had epic moments during the season, being that unstoppable machine that we know.
On the past season, where they’ve finished in 2nd place and won the Champions League title, they were restless, getting more than 30 shots on target per match, and sooner or later the opponent would eventually concede.This season, their style was different, they controlled the matches, with periods of offensive intensity but being less bloodthirsty than they once were.
On the match against Atlético, they needed to reenact that team that had the basic principle of frantic attack and not only a compact defence and a surgical attack. Atlético, with the advantage, were playing with a block of two lines with 4 players ahead of the box and they couldn’t retain the possession for more than 10 seconds.
— Paavni (@TheDesiBarca) March 12, 2020
It was practically a wall, where the ball hit and bounced right back, and then it was a pack of players wearing red trying to score.Van Dijk was almost a playmaker, starting almost every play from the midfield, while the men up front were camping on the final third of the pitch. However, the penetration wasn’t easy, and Liverpool had to test their repertoire, with short passes, long turns and medium range shots.
Atlético’s goalkeeper was the man of the match, saving everything he could and postponing something that seemed inevitable, that was a comfortable victory for the Reds. The goalkeeper Oblak couldn’t stop Wijnaldum. The midfielder came into the box and almost unmarked he scored on a great play from the English club through the right side.
Half-time came and the score was 1-0 for Liverpool and there was a clear feeling that if that pace continued, the match would be a mauling. Liverpool were finally playing to their full potential.
Football proves to be incredible once again!
Liverpool’s initial favouritism was correct. They came to this important encounter with only 1.50 odds on Bet365 and 1XBet, despite facing an extremely competitive side. Until half-time, only the English side was playing. Oblak continued to save the team, saving shots from everywhere while Liverpool was being able to penetrate more and more into the Spanish box and nobody expected the club from Madrid to react.
Liverpool wasted at least 5 good goalscoring chances, with one of them being a shot that hit the bar from 2 meters, with the goalkeeper already out of the picture. Things didn’t work out and Oblak and his defence were able to withstand the Reds and take the match to extra-time. During the 2nd half, Atlético only had 3 shots on goal, while Liverpool had 15 shots on target.
Then came extra-time, 30 more minutes of pressure. At 4 minutes, Firmino scored Liverpool’s 2nd goal and it seemed like he had put an end to the anguish of every fan in the stadium. But I’ve mentioned that football is incredible and once again, things took a surprising and exciting turn.
— Fernando Nígüez 🇧🇷🇺🇸 (@ferdinandygues) March 11, 2020
That team that allowed more than 30 shots for 90 minutes, that was holding on by a thread in order not to get battered, raised from ashes. In one of their few onslaughts, Llorente 7 minutes into extra-time, scored the goal that put the Spaniards in front on the tie. Now, the draw wasn’t good enough for Liverpool anymore, who should attack even more, expose themselves even more, to try and score the 3rd goal.
They weren’t able to apply the same pressure. All the intensity they imposed during the 90 minutes and the first 15 minutes of extra-time, scoring 2 goals and then that cold shower made the home side wither. They’ve exposed themselves even more, but they offered spaces they hadn’t been offering. On a counterattack, with their defence exposed, once again Llorente, who started on the bench, appeared to be the Spanish savior.
That was the end of Liverpool’s dream
The current champions were eliminated on the 8th finals, but against a great team, that knew how to suffer and then fight for qualification, even when everyone doubted them.
Maybe the team that played better football or the one with more technical quality didn’t win.
But the most effective team advanced, and that’s what Liverpool was during the entire season, but here they had a taste of their own medicine.