Two weekends ago, Liverpool vs Flamengo faced off on the final of the FIFA Club World Cup. The English side needed to go to extra-time to be able to score their goal, and we might say that was somewhat of a relief after a very close match during the 90 minutes.
Who said it would be easy for Liverpool to become world champions?
Liverpool and Flamengo were featured in a true final in Doha, providing true emotion to their fans. Unlike the latest editions of the FIFA Club World Cup, where the Champions League’s winners were very superior to the opposition, that on some occasions wasn’t even the winner of the Copa Libertadores.
The odds on all of the bookmakers suggested that Liverpool were favourites, but not by a long margin, which means they weren’t expected to stomp the Brazilian side.
On most of the encounters in the Premier League, Liverpool appears with very inferior odds, and that’s credit to the work of the Brazilian side.
The match started with Liverpool missing a goalscoring chance, on a good offensive play, where the ball was sent to Firmino that shot over the target. It seemed like Klopp’s team would have most of the initiative.
After the initial nervousness however, Flamengo started to play their game, with a less reactive style, with more possession and a lot of intensity in marking.
From then onwards, Liverpool was less present on their offensive midfield, and the ball possession was almost tied throughout the entire match.
Those that expected the Brazilian side to be trapped inside their own box were wrong. Although Liverpool didn’t have a lot of penetration ability, Flamengo had a lot of escape plans, especially with Bruno Henrique.
Alexander-Arnold, the best right-back in the world, was getting scared against Flamengo’s winger. On a not so good day for Van Dijk, it was up to Alisson to keep the English goal safe from danger.
But it was during the 2nd half that the characteristics of each team were emphasized.
Liverpool started marking higher up the pitch and they soon reached Flamengo’s box. On their best goalscoring chance, Firmino lofted the ball over Rodrigo Caio and hit the crossbar, on a spectacular play.
Salah almost scored right after, when Liverpool already had more ability of penetrating the box and move the ball well.
But, on 2 occasions after that, Flamengo managed to make a good triangulation and Gabriel got two very dangerous shots on. The first one went over the English goal and on the 2nd one, Alisson prevented what would be the Brazilian goal.
The match started to have more attacking transitions, getting more dynamic as Liverpool needed to score more and more, and that ended up creating more spaces for Flamengo’s transitions.
On the final minutes, the one that hadn’t showed up yet, arrived to once again steal the attentions of the encounter.
Até entendo q algumas pessoas terem sido contaminadas pela prorrogação, onde o #Flamengo já n tinha pernas e realmente o LFC dominou, mas de resto, podem distorcer o qnto quiserem…
66 minutos, vulgo metade do 2º tpo, essa era a análise e o retrato fiel de quem assistia o jogo. pic.twitter.com/XhfrtbGLLF
— 🇦🇱 Wilson ❁ (@duducbm) December 24, 2019
Mané had a 1-on-1 with Diego Alves, he missed his shot, but the referee whistled for a foul on the Liverpool’s attacker, which resulted on a penalty for the Reds.
After a series of protests and a VAR review, the referee reversed the decision and that sent the match to extra-time.
On the 30 additional minutes, Liverpool were clearly superior physically. Flamengo had to make some changes that completely changed the structure of the team and weakened them against a team at its physical peak.
Still during the first half of extra-time, Firmino was free after a Mane’s pass, left Diego Alves and Rodrigo Caio behind and scored the goal that would ensure the first FIFA Club World Cup title for Liverpool.
Has the distance between European and south American football diminished?
It isn’t something solid, but after this match, a wave of news with this topic came to public. We should consider several aspects for this match to finish with the result it did.
Liverpool didn’t impose that absurd intention when marking, as they usually do in the Premier League. That was visible, however, even with slightly lower lines, and they couldn’t prevent all of Flamengo’s actions.
With the ball on their possession, the English side didn’t manage to play, not creating plenty of goalscoring chances, and losing most of the individual duels against Flamengo’s players.
For the Europeans, this is a title of less expression, yes, and especially in terms of the intensity without the ball, the difference is clear.
But it’s also worth to highlight that Liverpool didn’t play well, and not because they didn’t want to, but because they were unable to do so.
A melhor parte, gol de Firmino. Aliás, um belo gol! Feio foi o Galvão narrar gol de um brasileiro com todo esse desânimo. Firmino foi merecedor de fazer o gol de um título importante. É tão brasileiro quanto os demais, merece respeito! #liverpool #firmino #mundial pic.twitter.com/N20CrXHTkE
— 𝓖𝓲𝓼𝓪 𝓶𝓸𝓮𝓭𝓮𝓻 𝓿𝓪𝓷 𝓳𝓸𝓷𝓰𝓮𝓷 🇳🇱 (@tricolinda81) December 21, 2019
Flamengo created some chances, controlling the initiative during some moments of the encounter. Liverpool tried to be better, and they couldn’t, that’s a fact.
The distance between Europe and South America is still gigantic. However, Flamengo managed to reduce that disadvantage slightly, especially when we talk about Brazilian clubs. The mentality of the teams in Brazil doesn’t change that often.
They still lack some quality, since the economic power of the Europeans is much stronger, and all the big stars go there.
The Brazilians are still the underdogs, but it seems like they’ve taken a step towards evolution, even if small, but important to change the concepts of football played in Brazil.