UEFA Champions League 2017-18 Final: Injury and Luck

First of all congratulation Real Madrid for winning the UEFA Champions League Final 3 times in a row. But they had their fair share of luck and luck only favour the winners. If you see the season they had their ups and downs, in league they finished 3rd and got knocked out in Copa Del Rey by Leganes. But in Champions League they are different kind of team they knocked out all the good teams in the competition starting from PSG then Juventus and then Bryan Munich in semi final. In all the games starting from Round of 16 then Quarterfinal then Semi-Final, Real Madrid had their luck and chances which gone unnoticed by UEFA officials. Even in Final, when Ramos elbowed Karius in 47th min of the game, the near post official didn’t notice it which could have changed the game because it was a red card offence. 

First Half: Read Between the Lines 

The first half of the game was like both the team wanted to read opponent mind and trying to find a way out. Real Madrid started with a diamond formation in their mid field, Casemiro in deep line with Modric and Toni in central mid and Isco just behind 2 strikers. This was just to neutralise Liverpool high pressing game in the mid field, because Madrid will have number advance 3 to 4 and Isco Work was to man mark and press high to Henderson whenever he gets the ball just to stop across the field passes to Salah or to Mane. But the diamond formation tactics from Zidane was not efficient enough because Liverpool’s fullbacks got enough space behind the Madrid midfield to move forward and that is why we see so many chances created by Liverpool in starting 30mins of the game. But all this changed with the injury to Salah. Lallaha came in for Salah and Liverpool went from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 with Lallaha playing at Mane’s position but little deeper role since he lack pace and Mane shifted to right hand side to take advance of space created by Marcelo. Liverpool had less position in the first half due to midfield was crowed by Madrid players but they had more number of chances which was created by their fullbacks. Madrid got more ball possession which they couldn’t convert into goals due to very high pressing by Liverpool Midfield. Liverpool were aggressive and played the English Football style to press each Madrid player. Madrid midfield couldn’t capitalised with the amount of ball they had and keep on passing backward and sideways. The injury to Daniel also effected Real Madrid, they couldn’t stretch Liverpool back 4 and their midfield because Nacho is not that great going forward and lack the vision for long through passed and crosses.

Second Half: Luck vs. Inexperience 

The second half started just as first half but Klopp must have given instructions to his players to start the game from back and run the game faster to give less time to Madrid players to think and rearrange and that’s where the experience comes handy. To play like Barcelona or Bryan Munich or Manchester City who always start the game from goalkeeper, you need a coolheaded and calm mentality players to make correct pass with composer. But this is Liverpool, and the first goal was just because Karius was instructed to start the game from back without any delay and It was a school boy error from him. The irony is, it was not the only mistake he did on the night of his career’s biggest game, second was a horrible decision making mistake. He couldn’t make his mind with the ball traveling in that speed when Bale shot it from that long 35-40 yard. He got caught between “punch it” or to “hold it”. It was all lack of experience that’s it. There was a class Bale moment in second half and toward the end the pitch invader denied a golden chance for Ronaldo to score and show off his 8-9 packs, Ha-Ha!! For me Ronaldo had a bad game he was not good with his touches and run making into the box and got caught between shoot- no shoot decision. An amazing tackle by Robertson on Ronaldo also denied a chance. 

Bale: Greatest goal of Final 

When i saw Isco starting the game ahead of Bale it was not a surprise for me. Isco did a good job in midfield diamond formation and hit the post ones. But after Salah injury it was best for Madrid to shift to 4-3-3 formation to for better counter attack option and just after 3 min. being on pitch Bale showed that. The cross from Marcelo was not that great and with all of BBC was inside the box. Bale only option was an overhead kick and what a kick it was. Amazing goal. When I saw it first I couldn’t believe it adding to that the ball literally went in the post and to the net in slow motion. It was a great goal and must be the greatest Champions League Final goal ever. Post the game in post match interview Bale told he must be playing every week  which is correct and I believe this was his last game for Real Madrid. 

Ramos: VAR ?

The experience he got and the amount of trophies he has won with respect to the player he is and the fouls he commits is crazy. I mean how can someone with such a decorated career behave like that. Forget the foul on Salah which was a professional foul and it was Salah mistake to put his arm around Ramos shoulder. But the elbow knock to Karius in second half was crazy and a very very bad example for youngsters. There has to be some game ethics and modesty to be counted in the greatest of all defenders, but if we compare his winning medals to his todo anything for win attitude is disgusting. 

Overall it was not a game what we all expected because of injury to key players and inexperience of one team in the competition. It was not a game of wow kind, only wow movement was the Bale goal. First half both the team showed that, team with experience couldn’t score goal because they got caught in high pressing strong and full of energy opponent and the team with less experience got their chances but couldn’t score goals after creating so many chances because they were not present at the correct position at the correct time. All got changed in second half with the injury suffered by both the team. 

Now the next question is can Real Madrid do it again next year I don’t think so, Ronaldo is ageing and other teams are growing up to match Real Madrid, Barcelona and Bryan Munich standard. The lights of ManchesterCity, Manchester United, PSG, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid and Juventus gonna give a good fight next year. Madrid need to spend good for next season. A must buy are a good goalkeeper, a forward and at least 2 world class wingers because Bale going to leave for sure. For Liverpool, they have done good this season they got the taste of defeat from the best of Europe and learned a lesson. They too need to spend good for next season. A world class goalkeeper, A attacking midfield and Winger to support the front three. Liverpool don’t have quality depth in the team that they have to fix it. If we see team like Manchester City, Real Madrid and Bryan Munich they got the best squad with quality depth and teams like Barcelona, Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Liverpool and United need to work on to improve their depth and focus on youth development. 

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