We are on the cusp of witnessing one of the best Champions League finals. Of course, there have been better finals in the past, but the way these two teams play and the European royalty they possess, you can just guarantee an entertaining game. Two teams who are a joy to watch when attacking and a bit circumspect when put to defend. One is aiming for a record third successive title, where as the other is looking to create history. All the making of a cracking Saturday night in Kiev.
We are here to preview the game tactically and also putting some stats related to this final. Two of the best tacticians in Zinedine Zidane and Jurgen Klopp will be at work, expect enthralling systems in play.
Tactical Preview: –
One thing is for certain, no team will start the game on the back-foot. It is not in Real Madrid and Liverpool’s footballing DNA to start by sitting deep and playing on the break. There will be a phase in the game when one team will dominate the ball with other either looking to have a breather or opt to protect the lead, if the situation demands.
Real Madrid: –
Zidane has constantly switched his formation from 4-3-3 to 4-4-2 (diamond) this season. He probably has the best squad in terms of adaptability. He can choose a system according to the opposition and players fit in that. Let us analyse both the systems and try to figure out which one would be best for the final against Liverpool.
The above image shows us the 4-3-3 formation, which is the primary one for Zidane. In this, the midfield three have physicality, passing nouce and the ability to move up and down the pitch. Casemiro as a defensive midfielder acts as a shield which allows Marcelo and Dani Carvajal to move forward from fullback. Karim Benzema and Cristiano Ronaldo are central strikers together.
The role of the right side player depends on who is picked. If either of Gareth Bale or Marco Asensio are there, then expect a normal winger role from them. They will do the natural up and down job from the wing areas. On the left, Toni Kroos covers the forward runs of Ronaldo.
This formation is very good and adaptive according to the situation. Though, it can be overrun if Liverpool apply the press and power in central and attacking areas. The Reds play a 4-3-3 system too and Madrid team lacks pace all around the pitch. So, playing a like for like formation with lesser pace against a high press team wouldn’t appease Zidane.
The above image shows us the 4-4-2 diamond formation used by Zidane on few occasions. The Frenchman predominantly uses this to have extra command in midfield with a spare man. He plays Isco in that roaming number 10 role which allows free runs for Ronaldo and Benzema up top.
What this does is that Isco can either join attacks or can drop deep to become an extra man in midfield. This can easily allow the Madrid midfield to be more authoritative on the ball and manoeuvre possession. Playing against a 4-3-3 formation, this diamond system may just suit well for Los Blancos.
Jurgen Klopp doesn’t generally change his systems on horses-for-courses basis. He has a fixed 4-3-3 starting formation to begin with. The high intensity, high press with pace on counter-attacks, are some of the words we hear in Klopp’s football. The German, apart from subtle changes, won’t change his system of play.
As shown in the above image, Liverpool’s 4-3-3 formation with possible starting eleven. We all know what the front three are all about. They will press high centrally along with the able support of their midfield. They are up against Real Madrid, who probably are the best team when it comes to adapting to the quality of the opposition and playing according to the situation with experience.
The Reds need to ensure they are not overly excited when pressing the ball. If Madrid play a 4-4-2 formation, they need to make sure the floating number 10 gets marked. In addition, they have to ensure Casemiro doesn’t start to dictate games from the deep.
Overall, an intriguing tactical battle is on the cards on Saturday for us to witness.
Stats Pack: –
- In all time head to head, Liverpool lead Real Madrid 3-2.
- Real Madrid have been into 15 Champions League/European Cup finals before, winning 12 of them.
- Liverpool have been into 7 Champions League/European Cup finals before, winning 5 of them.
- Combined number of European titles of these two teams is 17, a European royalty final.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has scored 15 goals in this season’s Champions League, 5 more than Liverpool’s top scorers Firmino and Salah (both have 10).
- Last time these two teams met in a European final was back in 1981 at Parc des Princes, the Reds won the game 1-0.
We all agree anonymously that Real Madrid are the favourites to win this match. But, writing off Liverpool should be done at own perils. This is why it is a very evenly poised game. One team about which we all know and the other is an unknown quantity on the biggest stage. Hard to predict a result.
Disclaimer – Write any team off at your own peril!
Analysed by Mizgan,