Liverpool To Halt Real Madrid's European Dominance?
The countdown to the much-awaited Champions League final clash between Real Madrid and Liverpool in Kiev has now been reduced to some hours. Yesterday, the 25th of May 2018 was exactly thirteen years ago when Liverpool celebrated their 2005 Champions League triumph over A. C Milan in a game which has been dubbed the Miracle of Istanbul.
From three goals down in the first half, Liverpool showed a resolve of unimaginable character to equalize in the second half through the able leadership of Steven Gerrard and ended up winning the game on penalties after a heroic shootout performance by the then goalkeeper Dudek.
Fast forward to 2018, Liverpool finds themselves in yet another Champions League final. Celebrating such an incredible comeback a day before your final game offers so much in terms of psychological advantage, doesn't it?
If there is anything about Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool, it is clear that they live for the big occasions. They have an impressive record against the other top five clubs in England and they most often than not know how to win the big games. Klopp's heavy metal football which is characterized by relentless pressing(Gengen Pressing), especially in the opponent's half of the pitch, works to perfection against sides who favor a more open and attacking brand of football.
The main source of worry for Liverpool is their somewhat shaky defense. Liverpool's defense has to do a yeo man's job if they are to keep Cristiano Ronaldo at his wit's end.
What has been obvious about Liverpool this season is that they tend to lose concentration when the game reaches its closing stages. This was evident in games against Manchester City in the premier league at the Etihad as well as against A. S Roma at Anfield in the champions league. Per the principle of logic, what has happened before has the tendency to happen again. It becomes more disturbing when you realize the manner in which Real Madrid won their previous three Champions League crowns. In the finals, they showed impeccable concentration and mental fortitude against Atletico Madrid on two occasions as well as against Juventus to end up as Champions.
Liverpool would have to play with their hearts if they really want to become the next Kings of Europe. The attacking trio of Salah, Mane, and Firmino would definitely wreck havoc but Liverpool's midfield and the defense must be up to the task in order to supplement the efforts of the attack.
All eyes would be on Jurgen Klopp as he has never won a cup final however, Conte showed last weekend that there is always a first time for everything. There would be no better platform to win your first cup final than to win it in the champions league final against Real Madrid.
Klopp's boys are young, hungry and motivated to write their names in the history books and there is no better challenge than the Champions League Final.
Liverpool, You Will Never Walk Alone.