2019 Champions League Final Match Abstract: Liverpool 2, Spurs 0

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2019 Champions League Final Match Abstract: Liverpool 2, Spurs 0 

Post#1 » by RealGM Articles » Mon Jun 3, 2019 9:03 pm

  1. I don’t recall there being so much focus on both managers before a Champions League Final than this year. We’ve learned about Mauricio Pochettino adding to his theory of a universal energy by using coal-walking exercises to build his team’s mental toughness. Jurgen Klopp had to answer for a lack of titles throughout his managerial career, though even he had to admit that trophies are what any outside observer will remember about an era when looking back. Ultimately, that attention shows how this final lacks a superstar like Ronaldo to focus the intrigue back to the field.
  2. Pochettino already said he was in a Catch-22 situation when it came to whether or not he would start Harry Kane. If Tottenham win, whatever decision he chose was correct. If Tottenham lose, his decision was terrible and “you are going to kill me.” While the safe choice would be to give into the stardom and start Kane, the mobility of Tottenham’s attack without their #9 presents a different look for opposition defenses.
  3. Alas, Kane starts in place of Lucas Moura, who is the reason why Tottenham are in the finals. Harry Winks will provide a midfield anchor alongside the activity of Moussa Sissoko. On the other end, James Milner sits on the bench for Liverpool. But with Fabinho’s importance in anchoring the midfield and Jordan Henderson as captain, someone had to sit out. Though the decision between Milner and Gini Wijnaldum is much more of a like-for-like than the strategy defining choice of picking Kane over Moura.
  4. This is some start with Sadio Mane earning a penalty 20 seconds into the match off a handball from Sissoko. Sissoko looked like he was pointing to someone to cover the back post, anticipating a cross. Regardless, Mo Salah takes a long run up to the penalty kick and buries it. Salah already has his redemption for last season a minute into the match.
  5. Liverpool’s press is keeping Tottenham in their own third - it’s not necessarily aggressive in attempting to recover the ball, but more in controlling space and shape. One has to wonder if this lack of ball aggression to control space was always the plan, how much it was influenced by that early goal.
  6. On the other end, Virgil van Dijk’s diagonal long ball to Mane is Liverpool’s best attack when they actually decide to come out of their shell.
  7. Christian Eriksen hits a through ball into space to Son Heung-min that is patiently defended by Trent Alexander-Arnold. Liverpool’s high line will open up those spaces down the channel for Tottenham as they are not the type of defend to sit deep and clear crosses with a lead. Liverpool also need to close down Eriksen before he gets into his rhythm.
  8. Andy Robertson and Kieran Trippier come together in a collision, with Trippier on the ground. That’s the first clash between the two players of the match, showing how much of play has been contained in the center of midfield.
  9. An update on Kane’s influence midway through the first half: he hasn’t been on the ball much. While it may not be his game to get behind Liverpool’s high line, he can surely provide an outlet to get Dele Alli and Son into the match. Then again, the match has been played in the midfield with little influence from the strikers outside of pressing. Thirty minutes into the game, how many touches have there been inside each box?
  10. Robertson took responsibility for injecting energy into this match with a box-to-box run of his own, ending in a shot.
  11. Just before half, Alli lead a 3 v 3 transition into Liverpool’s third that ended with a wayward pass. Adding that final ball would open up another facet of how he can impact a match outside of his energy and late runs into the box.
  12. As we go into half, we can expound upon theories of how early goals ruin the flow of matches with Liverpool happy to defend a lead in their own style for 89 minutes. That said, if Tottenham can get a goal back, it may be difficult to Liverpool to re-shift their mentality to back to a 50-50 game.
  13. A graphic shows that Kane had just 11 touches in the first half. It’s obvious in hindsight now, especially down a goal, but Moura’s pace is built to create something out of nothing in space.
  14. Kane gets an early touch on the ball in front of goal to start the second half. He is threatening as Spurs show a newfound purpose in attacking Liverpool. Kane draws a foul from Wijnaldum - something woke him up at halftime. Liverpool will have to adjust to regain control of this match.
  15. Salah finally gets an opening into space 54 minutes into the match with a through ball from Wijnaldum. Jan Vertonghen held his ground and deflected Salah’s shot.
  16. Alexander-Arnold gets another important block on Son inside Liverpool’s box. Any tying goal from Tottenham will come from Son.
  17. Divock Origi comes on for Firmino. Firmino, like Kane, didn’t look fit and never got into the match.
  18. On that front, Liverpool have done well in closing off Eriksen after that initial threat in the first half. This match may be defined by the playmakers like Eriksen, Kane, Alli, Firmino, and Salah who never saw enough of the ball to impact the match. But that goes back to the containment mentality following the early goal.
  19. Moura finally comes on for Winks. This lineup is more of the Tottenham we saw during their run to the final.
  20. Pochettino’s side threaten with an over-the-top diagonal ball from Vertonghen to Trippier. Trippier looks like he hurt his leg. Sissoko, likewise, is on the ground exhausted.
  21. Alli had a half-chance that finished with a cheeky chip. That sequence started with Son receiving the ball in between the lines, drawing out Liverpool’s backline, then taking that space they left behind on the return ball.
  22. Son receiving the ball with space is the most dangerous attacker in this match. Van Dijk saves Liverpool by winning a huge 1 v 1 challenge.
  23. Alisson follows that up with back to back saves. Those two transfers from last season are winning this match.
  24. Milner fouls Rose just outside the box. There is some cruel poetry and luck between Sissoko’s handball inside the box to begin the match, and that Milner foul. Eriksen’s shot off the free kick is again saved by Alisson.
  25. Who else but Origi, who has scored important goals against Everton and against Barcelona to get Liverpool to the final, to cap off this match with an excellent left-footed strike.
  26. Alisson makes one more save on Son to cap off the match.
  27. That final whistle blows. That was a boring match for the neutral with little in the way of momentum swings or buildup for open chances. The early goal changed the calculus for both sides, especially for Liverpool in having no reason to attack or showcase their aggression.
  28. Of course, Klopp will not care about that. Having made the final last season, and looking at the age and harmony of this current roster and the confidence from winning a trophy, why couldn’t Liverpool could make the final again next season? My MOTM goes to Alisson for his late saves, but credit van Dijk for his calming influence. Those two players changed Liverpool from being an exciting team in the wrong way of giving up late leads, to seeing out 89 minutes of a match without a goal. 
  29. Liverpool last won the Champions League under Rafa Benitez in 2005. How unrecognizable is the game since then? We’ve gone through two distinct eras with tiki-taka to gegenpressing in a span of 14 years.
  30. Pochettino may regret starting Kane, and one could point out little tactical nuances, but an early goal changes the structure, feel, and shape for the rest of the match. Pochettino may have done more than any manager in Europe this season, wringing all of the ability out of a roster filled with youth academy prospects and aging veterans. Tottenham will need to spend this summer, especially in upgrading the base of their midfield.

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