Ehe Real Madrid begins to play its season in the next 10 days, with the league match against Barcelona and with the double duel against Liverpool in the Champions League. The Whites will face a team that is looking forward to it after the lost final of 2018 but that they should not be afraid of -which I do respect-, since it is not having a good season nor is it at its best right now.
Klopp’s men come off a bad start to 2021 that has made him say goodbye to the idea of revalidating the Premier but that, on the other hand, have made the Champions League the place where all efforts are concentrated. Starting from this context, we analyze Liverpool from all sides, trying to dissect where Madrid falters and what Madrid should be careful about.
Klopp does not hit the key in defense
El Liverpool still a high intensity defensive team. It maintains a PPDA (passes allowed for each defensive action) around 10 (current 10.66 compared to 10.28 last year), being after Leeds and Chelsea the most intense in the Premier. It is especially intense in the area of departure of the opponent’s ball, whose pressure is usually effective. He’s in the top 10 of European teams in this regard. In addition, it is one of the teams in the five major leagues that recovers and intercepts the most balls. His style has not changed in this regard.
However, injuries are weighing heavily on the team, especially in the back. The biggest weak point Liverpool this season is precisely there. The long-term casualties of Joe Gmez, but especially Virgil Van Dijk, have bled the team. Klopp doesn’t quite find the right center-back pair. The German has tried this course with 19 two different adding all the competitions.
The most used is the one formed by Fabinho and Matip, who have played seven games together. The Brazilian is the one that appears among the five most used couples except for one, which curiously is the one of the two great absentees and which is still the second most used. Gmez and Van Dijk trained in four games before falling injured.
To get an idea of which pair Klopp could get against Madrid, we refer to the last six games and that is la dupla Phillips-Pumpkin. Have formed together in four of them and in all the ‘Reds’ won. In the other two encounters, one of the two remained and the other rested. Phillips played alongside Williams against Fulham and Kabak alongside Fabinho against Chelsea. In both, the ‘Pool’ lost.
Core pairs used by startup Klopp
Gmez-Van Dijk: 4
Fabinho-R. Williams: 4
Van Dijk-R. Williams: 2
All these problems have led the team to an important each at the defensive level if we compare it with the last two seasons. This course has conceded more goals, more shots on target, more clear chances and more expected goals against per game. In the case of goals, he has doubled his records from two years ago, from conceding 0.6 every 90 minutes to 1.2 now. It is also one of the teams with the fewest duels of the five major leagues and the second worst in the Premier at this point.
As a result of this central dance and not having mainly Van Dijk, Alisson is more insecure, which has led him to commit more serious errors, some of them ending in goal. Liverpool is the team in Europe – together with Mnaco and Nice – that has made the most mistakes that have led to a goal from the rival, with nine, a facet in which the Brazilian goal has contributed.
Despite everything, he has avoided 2.8 more goals than he should have depending on the quality of the 78 shots received, which are now almost as many as those received last season (79). Come on what is having more work, although, compared to the rest of the Big-5 teams, it is not exactly the ones that throw him the most. In any case, Liverpool is another in the Champions League. He has only conceded three goals and Alisson has kept his goalkeeper to zero in four of the five games he has played.
A weaker attack … but always dangerous
Liverpool’s offensive figures have also been reduced compared to the last two campaigns., but that does not mean that they are bad. Rather, that in the previous courses it was at a very high level.
Both in goals, as in shots, shots on goal, conversion rate, expected goals and expected goals per shot, the current Liverpool underperforms the previous two. He has gone from scoring 2.3 goals per game in the Premier to 1.7. It is also curious that he has not scored a single goal from outside the area in the Champions League and only three in the Premier.
That decline, mainly in the finish, has to do with the performance of those above. All three are still very dangerous. But it is true that only Wrong is maintaining a high level. The Egyptian has not forgotten to score goals: 18 in the Premier and 26 in total, performing in both cases above expectations depending on the quality of your shots.
Man and Firmino are not as fine as their partner going to door. The Senegals, he has only 12 goals between all competitions, seven of them in the Premier. He should have almost 14 in total and 11 in the English championship.
What of Firmino it is more bloody because none of his scarce six goals has been in the Champions League. In any case, the Brazilian, despite being a starter against Arsenal, reappeared after injury and it is very possible that he will be a substitute, leaving his place to a Diogo Jota who has recovered, also after a knee injury, the scoring nose for which he stood out at the beginning of the season, as he well demonstrated with his double against Arsenal.
The threat of Madrid in the Champions League: the madness of Diogo Jota and his two goals
The Portuguese is easy to find a shooting situation that goes between the three suits. Not in vain, He is the second Premier League footballer with at least 700 minutes of play, with almost two shots (1.97). It is only surpassed by El Gazhi, from Aston Villa. And he is eighth counting the big leagues, rubbing shoulders with people like Messi, Cristiano, Lewandowski or Ibrahimovic. The thing worsens if we limit it to goals. Score practically one per game (0.99), the sixth best record in Europe and the best in the English championship. The five ahead are Muriel, Lewandowski, Ibrahimovic, Cristiano and Haaland. Almost nothing.
Like Salah, is performing above expectations based on the quality of your opportunities. He has scored eight goals, almost five more than expected in the English championship (he has 12 among all competitions)
Again, in the Champions League things change a bit, since the team has a 19.7% effectiveness in front of goal, the ninth best team in the competition (Bayern dominates with 27.3%), being even ahead of the Madrid. And it has a 55% accuracy when its shots go between clubs (48 of 89), one point above the targets and as the 11th best team in the tournament.
Eye to the sides
Another of the great dangers that Madrid can face are the two sides of Liverpool. Both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold are lavish in attack with a clear objective: to put the ball in the area. Its hit rate is not very high but the constant bombardment is very demanding on the rivals. Liverpool make more than 14 passes into the area per game, more than anyone else, and a lot of ‘fault’ is on their two full-backs.
However, they are two different sides, where it complements the other. Arnold He leads more with internships towards the center, from where he often tries to decide whether to shoot or pass, although in the Champions League he is the player ‘Red’ who has placed the most centers, with 27.
Robertson, on the other hand, he has less ability to dribble and, therefore, as soon as he reaches the height of the last third of the field, he looks for the center, coming to give this course two assists in the Premier. He also shoots when he has the chance, but practically always from the left side of the inside of the area. We are talking about the Liverpool player who makes the most passes both in total and in the opposite field in the Champions League.
A defined midfield … awaiting defense
The most normal thing is that the three in the middle of the field are Thiago, Wijnaldum and Fabinho. The only option to break this trio is for the Brazilian to end up playing center-back in that dance we were talking about earlier. In that case, Milner has more ballots than anyone to enter the eleven.
Thiago has been the last to arrive. Despite have been one of the centers of criticism, Klopp has not lost confidence in the Spanish international. Its quality, but especially its wide coverage area, have made it consolidate. However, in Liverpool his presence in the rival area has been relatively reduced.
Real Madrid will find a Liverpool that demands a lot from them on a physical level, that puts pressure on them and that is very vertical. But Klopp’s team has its cracks, especially in defense. Finding that hole through which to make the (weak) wall ‘Red’ fall will be decisive to be able to get into the semifinals of the Champions League.
Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my email@example.com 1-800-268-7116