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Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: 5 Talking Points as Vinicius Jr's brace fires Los Blancos to victory | UEFA Champions League 2020-21

Sai Teja
ANALYST
Modified 13 Apr 2021
Top 5 / Top 10

#3 A timeless performance from Luka Modric and Toni Kroos

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One
Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One

Mere words cannot begin to describe the impact that Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have had at Real Madrid over the last few years. The German and the Croat are undeniably two of the best midfielders of the 21st century and their performance against Liverpool was another timely reminder of their credentials.

Everything that Real Madrid did on the night when in possession went through the the two midfield maestros. They decided when to push forward, slow things down, and create goals out of nothing — and nothing depicts these qualities better than the first goal. After a period of possession, Real Madrid passed the ball around as Liverpool regained their shape. The visitors made the mistake of offering Kroos his as much time on the ball as he pleased and the 31-year-old responded as one would expect him to.

After scanning his surroundings and spotting Vinicius darting in behind, Kroos delivered one of the passes of the season to find the Brazilian with the utmost precision. The Brazilian went on to slot the ball past Alisson Becker to break the deadlock for Real Madrid. Kroos completed all nine long balls he attempted on the night and supplied his side with four key passes to go with it.

The third goal came as a result of a clever pass from Modric after receiving the ball from Karim Benzema. Modric rolled it into Vinicius who, once again, found a way past Alisson to double the Blancos' advantage. The assist aside, Modric also had a fantastic night against Liverpool.

The pair were valiantly supported by the ever-reliable Casemiro, who tackled everything that moved in and around the middle of the park to win the ball back. His tireless shift helped Real Madrid recycle possession with ease. Casemiro completed a game-high eight tackles against the Reds.

At 31 and 35 respectively, Kroos and Modric have shown once again why they're regarded as one of the finest midfield pairings to grace the UEFA Champions League.


#2 A nightmare in Valdebebas for Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One
Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One

Trent Alexander-Arnold has established himself as one of the best right-backs in the world over the last couple of years. The Premier League and Champions League winner offers Liverpool a dynamic attacking threat that very few full-backs in the world can.

That being said, Alexander-Arnold has faced a barrage of criticism this season for his defensive shortcomings. The criticism has been at the forefront over the last week or so amidst a belief that he could be dropped from the England squad by Gareth Southgate ahead of UEFA Euro 2020. This is on the back of his omission in favour of Chelsea's Reece James for the most recent England squad.

Unfortunately for the 22-year-old, his display against Real Madrid did nothing to make the Three Lions coach think twice.

Alexander-Arnold had a nightmare first 45 minutes in the Spanish capital as he was involved in both goals they conceded against Real Madrid. Neither him nor Kabak were able to stay with Vinicius for the first goal and prevent him from going through on goal to face Alisson. The second goal further compounded the Englishman's misery.

While attempting to clear a pass from Kroos, Alexander-Arnold decided to head the ball towards Alisson from within his area but ended up providing Marco Asensio with an opportunity to score on a silver platter. Asensio's effort was initially saved by Liverpool keeper Alisson, but the Spaniard eventually managed to bundle the ball into the net. Alexander-Arnold was visibly agitated and cut a frustrated figure in the second half, receiving a yellow card from Felix Brych for verbal dissent.

Real Madrid were evidently aware of his shortcomings as they exploited the spaces left behind by him time and again. 44% of all their attacks on the night came down their left side, with Mendy, Vinicius, and on occasion, even Benzema finding acres of space on Liverpool's right flank.

At 22, the Liverpool full-back still has a lot of time to bounce back from perhaps one of the most difficult spells of his professional career. However, this is not a game that Alexander-Arnold is likely to look back upon fondly, to say the least.


#1 Vinicius Jr's crowning moment for Real Madrid

Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One
Real Madrid v Liverpool FC - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final: Leg One

There is no denying that Vinicius Jr is an exciting talent. This was made amply clear when Real Madrid opted to smash the Brazilian top flight's transfer record for an under-20 player and sign him for €45m three years ago. However, he is still a raw talent for all his electric pace and dribbling ability as Vinicius always came up short in the final third.

His goal returns since moving Real Madrid are a testament to his dire lack of end product. Across 105 appearances in his career at the club before today, the 20-year-old had a mere 12 goals and 22 assists to show for.

On Tuesday night, Vinicius gave the Blancos faithful a good look at his true potential as he was simply phenomenal against Liverpool.

Vinicius was their biggest attacking threat against Klopp's side. He constantly broke into the final third and caused them all sorts of problems. What made his display a truly special one from Vinicius was the composure and finishing ability that was lacking all this while.

His first touch to control Kroos' long ball was majestic and took both Kabak and Alexander-Arnold out of the picture. The Brazilian followed it up with a sublime finish to score his first of the night for Real Madrid. Vinicius then opted for a measured finish to meet Modric's pass and slotted the ball past his compatriot Alisson to score his second.

Even apart from his goals, Vinicius played with a sense of confidence on the ball and was simply a joy to watch. He scored the first brace of his Real Madrid career and the fact that he stepped up for the team during such a crucial encounter made it an even more memorable occasion for the 20-year-old.

Kroos was brilliant, but Vinicius was undoubtedly the best player on the pitch for the 13-time European champions against Liverpool.


Also read: 5 Best players in the UEFA Champions League so far

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Published 07 Apr 2021
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