Liverpool-Real Madrid: match notes
In a very closed final, Real Madrid won and brought down Liverpool with a goal from Vinicius Jr (1-0), but above all thanks to a monumental Thibaut Courtois.
Gala evening this Saturday at the Stade de France! While the Champions League final was initially to take place in Russia, UEFA decided a few months ago to move it to Saint-Denis, France. It is therefore in the Ile-de-France enclosure that Liverpool and Real Madrid crossed swords this evening for this last match of the 2021-2022 edition of C1. Fallouts of Villarreal and Manchester City respectively, Reds and Merengues, therefore, found themselves 90 minutes or more away from ultimate happiness. To get the cup with big ears, Jürgen Klopp left on his traditional 4-3-3 with the Salah-Mané-Diaz trio in front. Opposite, Carlo Ancelotti could count on his striker Benzema, accompanied in particular by the will-o’-the-wisp Vinicius Jr. English club quickly took over by putting their foot on the ball. A great Courtois was quickly needed to save Real Madrid in front of Salah, Thiago (16th) and then Mané (21st) who saw his shot deflected by the Belgian also go out by the post… So it was very hot sometimes in the Spanish surface and we had to wait until the end of the first act to see a Madrid opportunity.
On a long ball in-depth, Benzema could not make the difference but the French found the ball a few moments later and opened the scoring from the left. But the VAR, still just as long, canceled his achievement for an offside (44th). The score had therefore not changed at the break but everything was going to change when we returned from the locker room. On the right, Valverde fixed his vis-à-vis before triggering a cross-shot. At the back post, Vinicius Jr, forgotten by Alexander-Arnold, only had to push the leather into the back of the net for the opener (59th, 0-1). Real Madrid, therefore, led thanks to their Brazilian winger, but also thanks to their excellent Belgian goalkeeper. Because of a curled strike from Salah, Courtois flew away again (64th) before winning another duel against the Egyptian at a tight angle (69th). With his team running to the score, Jürgen Klopp launched Keïta and Firmino by bringing out Henderson and Thiago (77th). But against the Reds, Courtois was still as imperial as he released a deflected shot by Jota (80th). The Red Devil was simply unplayable with another parade against Salah (83rd)! Not far from Paris, Real Madrid, therefore, won this 2021-2022 edition of the Champions League thanks to this short success in the final. A fourteenth C1 in the history of the club, just that.
Man of the match: Courtois (10): After losing a first final under the colors of Atlético against Real Madrid in 2014, the Belgian goalkeeper found this Saturday evening the final of the Champions League under the colors of the Merengues. Called upon on numerous occasions, the Belgian made 9 saves. Facing Salah, he released a nice tap on the small strike of the Egyptian (15th), relaxed well on his wound (63rd), and totally disgusted him during his face-to-face at the end of the match (81st). At the start of the game, he had prevented the opener when he lay down well to stop Mané’s shot near the post (21st) with the tips of his gloves. A stratospheric match from the Red Devil.
- Alisson (4): a first intervention in the air on a wrapped shot from Vinicius Jr. (25th), before a strange exit in front of Benzema, whose goal was finally signaled offside (45th). He can’t do anything about the goal scored by the Brazilian and didn’t really have anything else to do at the end of the match.
- Alexander-Arnold (5): the English side has, once again, expressed its quality as a precious center. An excellent overflow on his side to find Salah, but Courtois was vigilant (17th). A superb cross towards Diaz, slightly too short (46th), before trying to find Thiago at the near post (54th). Defensively, he made a valuable intervention in front of Vinicius Jr. (30th). However, his line-up allows Vinicius Jr. to open the scoring and that was enough to turn the game around.
- Konate (8): A precious intervention in front of Vinicius Jr. on the left side (15th). A valuable aerial intervention to annihilate a counter-attack (28th). A breakthrough in the Madrid midfield which resulted in a header from Salah (35th). Before a new defensive return on Vini Jr. (70th). He can’t do anything about the opener and will have held his match until the end, without making any mistakes. An excellent final from the young Frenchman.
- Van Dijk (5): less spectacular than Konaté, Van Dijk delivered a clean game and didn’t really have much work to do. His aerial presence allowed the Reds not to be worried about set-pieces and his agreement with Konaté was invaluable. But Real Madrid’s only real chance was fatal for Liverpool, even if there is nothing they can do about it.
- Robertson (4): more feverish than all of his defenders, the Scotsman rubbed shoulders with a burning Valverde and is not exempt from any reproach on the goal scored by Vinicius Jr. Defensively, he was still present, but we saw him too little offensively. Facing him, Carvajal was much more noticed.
- Henderson (5): some loss of balls and some technical imprecision at the start of the game. Subsequently, he was able to be vigilant in front of his defense to prevent the Madrid attack from evolving. In difficulty after the hour mark, he was logically replaced by Keita (77th)who made a far from the reassuring entrance.
- Fabinho (5): precious in the conservation of the ball, he helped a lot to prevent the Kroos-Modric duo from progressing in the first period. He was even the Liverpool player to have touched the most balls (95). He subsequently struggled more after the break when Liverpool lost control of the game.
- Thiago (6): his presence helped Liverpool a lot to make play and hold the ball. He is the Reds player to have touched the most balls, with Fabinho (92 touchdowns). He looked for his attacking partners a lot before showing some signs of fatigue in the second half. He was replaced by Firmino, who made a low-key entry.
- Diaz (5.5): a constant effort on his left side, where he did not stop chaining back and forth to create danger and help his partners in defense. If he had no chances to get, he worked a lot and was omnipresent on the ground, but was notably slowed down by a very good job from Carvajal on the Madrid side. Replaced by Jota (65th),
- Mane (5): a sublime solitary action concluded with a strike that crashed into the left post of Courtois (20th), for a total of three shots that were stopped by the incredible Courtois. His defensive work was also valuable, but he was then muzzled by the Militão-Nacho duo and could not do anything, despite a deflection for Salah, who could not convert this offering (82nd).
- Salah (5): his instant recovery at close range forced Courtois to pull out all the stops before a recovery was still captured by the Belgian goalkeeper (18th). He was again slowed down by Courtois in the second half, on a curled shot (62nd), then at close range (68th). It is still him who forces the Real goalkeeper to make a headline to avoid the equalizer (82nd). What a frustrating game for the Egyptian striker.
- Courteous (10): see above
- Mendy (6.5): playing for his part in the first Champions League final of his career, the French international, no longer selected since March 2021, made an applied copy. Clean in his transmissions, he was also rarely taken on his side by Mohamed Salah and made valuable tackles. A little less prominent offensively than in his last outings, however.
- Alaba (7.5): drawing on his long experience at Bayern Munich, the Austrian international, who has already won the C1 twice, had a serious encounter. Vigilant in anticipation, he made three interceptions and won most of his duels. On the other hand, he was not good in the long game, but his defensive know-how was invaluable late in the game.
- Military (7.5): Arrived in 2019 at Real Madrid, the Brazilian central defender has really established himself this season like a boss in the Madrid defense. Author of a good performance against the Reds, he was imperial in duels, aerial or on the ground, as during his decisive return to Mané in the 6M (40th). He also tried a lot to lengthen the game without being very successful.
- Carvajal (7): the Spanish right side of Casa Blanca was one of the Real players who had already won the Big Ears Cup 4 times. Proving that he had experience, he knew not to be overwhelmed on his side by being the author of good returns against Diaz in particular (35th) and never reluctant in the intensity, despite a little waste.
- Casemiro (7.5): Real Madrid’s precious Brazilian midfielder was once again the author of a good performance. Less good in the first period, he recovered in the second by putting the intensity that we know him. Winning all his aerial duels and the majority of his duels on the ground he was very important to put an end to the actions of the Reds. Author of three interceptions and very comfortable in the long game, the former Porto player had a full game.
- Kroos (7): the 2014 world champion, who, like some of his teammates, won his fifth Champions League, played a very good game. At ease in the long and precious game to bring down the pressure, the German has a new response in a big meeting.
- Modric (6.5): the Croatian Ballon d’Or was the author of a good match even if it did not have as strong an impact as usual. Very good in the long and important game on Vinicius’ goal, he was important in the midfield. Replaced by Ceballos (90th)who was not far from scoring on his only opportunity.
- Valverde (7.5): the Uruguayan midfielder of Real Madrid was the author of a very big performance. Not stingy in the effort, he did not hesitate to go into contact or to gain meters with the ball at his feet. It was he who, from a tight center at the far post, offered an assist for Vinicius (59th). A league game for one of the players who represent the future of Casa Blanca.
- Benzema (6): author of a hat-trick against PSG in 16 minutes, four goals in two games against Chelsea, and three crucial achievements against Manchester City, Karim Benzema could have opened the scoring in the final against Liverpool before the break, but his goal scored after a scramble was disallowed after checking the VAR. Not having had many opportunities to get in their mouths, but still author of two key passes, the important thing was not there for KB9 who had already done all the work in the previous rounds and who could leave his faithful soldier afford the decisive goal.
- Vinicius Jr. (7): in order to confirm his very good season, Vinicius Jr scored the only goal of this final against Liverpool after a tense cross from Valverde where he only had to put his foot in opposition to open the scoring (58th). Author of a good second period, he tried to provoke on his side, even if he did not win a lot of duels against an exceptional Konaté.