Real Madrid vs Liverpool Champions League final standings, results and highlights
Different style, same result and enough to at least make Jurgen Klopp wonder what’s going on here. Real Madrid have ended Liverpool’s chances of winning the Champions League for the third straight season. On this occasion, however, the wonder wasn’t how you beat them, but how you score against them in the first place. Liverpool couldn’t come close to a comeback because they were struggling so hard to get forward and Karim Benzema picked them off with a 1-0 that made it a 6-2 on aggregate.
Much of that was admittedly due to an injury crisis in midfield, making it a bad – or perhaps inevitable – night for Madrid to show how commanding they are in that area. Far from being a side that is aging, in transition or just plain fragile, the European champions look like a more complete squad than last season. Much of this may have to do with the fact that they are allowed to call themselves European champions. It’s as if it gave young stars like Vinicius Junior and Eduardo Camavinga the conviction to go to another level, while Luka Modric and Benzema remain at last season’s level.
That makes them an immensely formidable squad who, for all the twists and turns of the story on the road to Paris, can’t exactly be considered an upstart revelation. They might even be the best in the competition if that doesn’t sound strange for a team that holds the trophy.
Liverpool, by contrast, are not entirely off the rails, but a season of injuries, troubles, chaos and wild unpredictability eventually settled for a draw at this level. It was asking a lot to overcome all that against such an opponent and means Klopp now just has to focus on getting back to that level next season. In the campaign, they only have the race for the top 4 left.
That could work in their favor as this side doesn’t seem to be able to perform at their best twice a week at the moment. They never got off the ground here, although that’s not necessarily due to lack of planning or quality.
If the key to those comebacks is an early storm, Liverpool have kept him suspended, but that was partly because their midfield has been so open of necessity. Klopp had just two fit starters for the area and one was a 37-year-old who was recently brought on as a backup right-back. Madrid didn’t so much win the battle in midfield as just being the team with actual midfield – and a strong one at that.
All of that carried more weight as these are the two clubs currently considered favorites for Jude Bellingham. One side had a more obvious vacancy. So all the Madrid midfield stars just sauntered through to get passes and take potshots wherever they wanted. Amid Toni Kroos unleashing so many attacking moves, Camavinga slammed the bar and Modric flew a full half-volley just wide.
Vinicius constantly looked on the verge of a breakthrough while Benzema was alert to any opening. It was actually impressively adventurous given that Madrid were ahead, but that’s what it was all about. They were so comfortable in that leadership that they could afford to just go out and play and assert themselves.
It was up to Liverpool to make them uncomfortable. They did it in moments, but it was always stretched, always like it was going to cost too much. So their best options were long shots or half chances when Andy Robertson sliced in from the left or Cody Gakpo tried from long range.
The other end emphasized the difference. Alisson was forced into a series of good saves, notably from Benzema and Vinicius, while almost every defender had to put in at least one big block. Trent Alexander-Arnold prevented what looked like a sure Benzema goal.
It was the kind of desperate defiance that made you think the game had a sense of destiny and that something big was about to happen… only there were still three goals.
Big things happened in the first leg.
There was a suggestion for a moment late with a quick Liverpool pass inside the box… only so no one actually shot. At the other end, Benzema showed them how it was done.
So the usual finish.
https://www.independent.co.uk/sport/football/real-madrid-liverpool-score-result-modric-salah-b2301784.html Real Madrid vs Liverpool Champions League final standings, results and highlights