Three things we learned from Liverpool – Real Madrid

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Real Madrid put an end to Liverpool’s UEFA Champions League campaign after a scoreless second leg at Anfield on Wednesday gave La Liga’s giants a 3-1 win on aggregate in the quarterfinals.

Liverpool will not win a trophy for the first time in three seasons, failing to make a final for just the second time in the Jurgen Klopp era.

[ ICYMI: Chelsea, PSG oust Porto, Bayern ]

Real will meet Chelsea in the semifinals, while Man City is set to tangle with Paris Saint-Germain for the right to meet in Istanbul for the final on May 29.

Real is in pursuit of a record 17th final and 14th title. Liverpool has six European Cups and has been to nine finals.


Three things we learned from Liverpool – Real Madrid

1. Both teams go for death blow early, but GKs alert: There was no doubt that Liverpool would bring the offense due to their philosophy and need to overcome a two-goal deficit, but Zinedine Zidane chased the away goal that would demand so much more than simply defending a two-goal advantage. Thibaut Courtois made a terrific early save on James Milner and Alisson matched him with a point-blank stop on Karim Benzema, all inside of the first quarter-hour. The two clubs who celebrate this competition like its their domestic league were at it, but would Liverpool’s first-half sloppiness cost it? Georginio Wijnaldum lashed over the bar and Liverpool was a little off with their work in close but it was clear the visitors were open for business. Would the Reds punish them?

2. Real slips into defense-first mode after half, quickly decides to abandon it: It looked like Zinedine Zidane opted for safety-first in the second half but his Sergio Ramos-free defense instead opened up some big chances within five minutes. Courtois conceded a corner when he made a solid in-tight save on Roberto Firmino in the 46th minute, and the Brazilian soon couldn’t push the side of his head into an airborne cross that looked very good money to make it 1-0. Or maybe not? Real got a hold of the game after the 51st minute and renewed its threat toward the Liverpool goal. Was it just an early surge from Liverpool? Maybe, or perhaps this was Real realizing a decision had gone awry. Vinicius Junior and Benzema then had chances stymied by an aggressive, desperate Alisson.

3. Lanes closed: Whenever Liverpool found itself in positions of danger after that early surge, the Reds saw the lanes closed up by alert and desperate Real Madrid backs and midfielder. There were so many blocked and altered shots as Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, and Co. worked and worked and worked to find angles that weren’t covered by white socks or Courtois. They rarely arrived.

Man of the Match: Thibaut Courtois

It’s either the goalkeeper, Casemiro, or one of Real’s two center backs, especially considering their injuries at that position, with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane out (not to mention fullback Dani Carvajal). Eder Miltao and Nacho Fernandez played well and Casemiro was his usual nasty self, nbut take Courtois’ early big save on James Milner away and who knows if the Reds manage to rally in confidence and form?  Courtois made another big save on Salah very late, giving him four on the day.