Real Madrid move to the semi-finals of the Champions League and will face Chelsea after a 0-0 second leg against Liverpool at Anfield, sending them through 3-1 on aggregate.
— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 14, 2021
Even though they were the better team, the game was far from perfect for Liverpool with them missing a lot of opportunities whereas Real Madrid could not build-up upon their lead and put the game to bed. In the second half, the visitors resorted to take the sting and momentum out of the game completely and were successful in doing that by constant fouling and breaking up the play, led by Casemiro.
Casemiro with his Player of the Match award. (Image Courtesy: Real Madrid / Twitter)
Here are 3 key takeaways from the fixture:
Wastefulness and Liverpool are going hand in hand this season. With the amount of chances that are being created for their forwards to attack, one would not be surprised to see them in higher positions and further in knockout competitions but that is not the case.
They started off the game pretty well, with the intense press, snapping into tackles, relentless attacks, just like the Liverpool side we knew under Jurgen Klopp from before. They had fans missing but tried to nullify that negative by cranking up the music inside the stadium to give them that Anfield ambiance but were not able to put the ball past a wall-like Thibaut Courtois.
(Image Courtesy: UEFA Champions League / Twitter)
Many of them must have forgotten their shooting boots as Liverpool had 15 shots at the goal of Real Madrid but with nothing to show for. Mohamed Salah was one of the main culprits, missing 2 glorious chances that could have kickstarted a comeback for the hosts.
But alas, that was not meant to happen today.
Ever since that 2-0 loss against Shaktar Donetsk in the group stages, Zinedine Zidane’s men have looked completely different both in La Liga and the Champions League. Till then, there was some level of inconsistency that was creeping into the squad but that has been erased since.
(Image Courtesy: Real Madrid / Twitter)
After two underwhelming campaigns which saw the team crash out in the round of 16 both the times, Real Madrid had to prove, not only to the outside world, but also themselves that they are one of the premier clubs in world football and that they belong at the top stage.
No matter their circumstances, injuries, players being out of form, suspensions; they will always be in the conversation for this title and their performances since that 2-0 loss prove that.
The fighting spirit was evidently visible on the evening, especially Federico Valverde, who was brought off in the El Clasico with injury concerns, started the game having taken painkillers and played out of position. This level of commitment will only help Los Blancos in a positive way and would make them ready for the pulsating clash against Chelsea in the semi-finals.
Federico Valverde vs. Liverpool
78% Pass accuracy
4/7 Accurate long passes
2 Chances created
10/16 Duels won
Out of position and under the microscope, Valverde was absolutely fantastic. pic.twitter.com/GGMAGzqI08
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) April 14, 2021
WHAT NEXT FOR KLOPP?
With now the Champions League also out of the picture, Klopp and Liverpool may be on the brink of missing out on Champions League football next season altogether. Liverpool are currently 6th in the league table, 4 points away from Leicester who are in third place. With potentially 2 spots up for grabs between Leicester, West Ham, Chelsea, and Liverpool themselves, the race for top 4 is currently heating up.
So, Klopp, for the near future, would have to focus on achieving Champions League football for next season, otherwise it would not be a surprise if this season is labelled as a disaster, even after having those many injuries.
In terms of the long-term future for Klopp, we at FootTheBall, expect him to stay at Liverpool for a foreseeable time, as the Germany job is now effectively taken. About the squad and how to proceed next season, Klopp must be thinking at what Sir Alex Ferguson did many times in his career, to rip up a squad and rebuild it again.
It may take time, but Liverpool will have to replace their ageing squad sooner rather than later if they want to continue fighting for the leagues as well as the continental titles.