Three things that hit Liverpool against Villarreal in the semi-final: Thiago bites off the short string

Draw the right conclusions from Bayern Munich’s elimination in the quarter finals, did not underestimate the opponents from Villarreal and remained true to yourself.

Liverpool FC have a foot in the Champions League final after a 2-0 victory in the semi-final first match and can continue to dream of the historic quadruple.

Jürgen Klopp’s team needed patience for a break on Wednesday at Anfield to break through Villarreal’s defense, but they stressed once again during the 90 minutes why they are currently considered the best team in Europe along with Manchester City.

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Three things we noticed.

Rulli destroys Emery’s battle plan

Anyone expecting a similar football festival after the spectacular 4-3 draw between Manchester City and Real Madrid on Tuesday was disappointed on Wednesday at Anfield Road. A little at least.

This was primarily because one side did not feel like playing high-speed football at all. From the first minute it was clear that Villarreal FC had arrived, with two perfectly moved four back, to drive up the wall in front of their own penalty area and fly back to Spain with as few conceded goals as possible.

It worked well in the first half. As against Juventus Turin and FC Bayern, Unai Emery had set up his men tactically perfectly. With disciplined and clever defensive work, not only did the yellow submarine manage to shut down the center, but also to a large extent stop Liverpool’s dangerous wing play via backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.

That Emery’s battle plan did not bear fruit this time was due not only to the pure class of the Reds who sat up after the break, but also because of their own keeper.

A cross coming in on the right hand side left Pervis Estupiñán alone in front of the goal after 53 minutes but his shot was woeful.

Gerónimo Rulli misses Liverpool FC

Photo Credit: Getty Images

“When a team plays with such a deep block, you also need a little bit of luck,” Reds captain Jordan Henderson said in an interview with BT Sport: “We had that, and it really got the crowd going.”

It was the initial spark for Jürgen Klopp’s team, who immediately tasted blood and just two minutes later scored the second goal after a perfect pass from Salah to Sadio Mané.

“We defended well in the first half, but we were a bit overwhelmed in the second half,” analyzed Villarreal’s Pau Torres, who did not look good even at 0-2: “Our mistake was punished.”

Thiago bites off the short string

120 passes. So many played Thiago last Sunday in the Merseyside derby against Everton (2-0) – 26 more than the entire opposing team.

The Spaniard has been in outstanding form for weeks and it was not lost on Emery. Therefore, Villarreal’s coach came with a very special kind of guard to his compatriot on Wednesday.

To give the ex-Bayern star as little time as possible to play his dreaded balls in depth, Thiago was almost permanently a Villarreal offensive player on his feet as soon as he touched the ball. Mainly Bayern scare Samuel Chukwueze was tasked with consistently disrupting the Spaniard in building the game and taking it on a short leash.

However, it only worked for just under half an hour before Thiago drew his conclusions, literally bit the cord off and slowly took over the game.

With a distance hammer from 25 meters, he just missed the lead shortly before half time (42nd). Even in the second half, Thiago never took his foot off the gas. Unlike his early days in Liverpool, where he often seemed like a foreign body, he was the lynching pain in the Reds’ game.

With 103 passes (with a 96 percent success rate!), He did not quite match the showdown against Everton, but it was still enough for the well-deserved man-of-the-match trophy.

Liverpool push from the other star

What made Liverpool FC better than FC Bayern? This question should probably be asked all over Germany after the first match of the semi-final.

Defender Torres admitted after the match that Villarreal’s game plan against Liverpool was similar to that against Bayern Munich two weeks ago.

Unlike Bayern, however, the Reds managed to snatch the counter-attacking chances of the seventh-placed La Liga team in the run-up and were never really in danger of conceding an unfortunate goal.

“If Villarreal manage to free themselves from the pressure, then they are immediately dangerous,” Jürgen Klopp explained at the press conference after the match. Bottom line: It’s best to keep the pressure up. And that made Liverpool to perfection on Wednesday night.

“The counter-pressure was very good in much of the game,” said Henderson, who along with Fabinho and Thiago in midfield immediately regained countless balls after losing the ball.

“They were better than us. We would have liked to have created more chances, but we were put a lot on the defensive,” said Emery, who is already looking forward to the second game: “2-0 is a clear and deserved result. It could have been even worse. However, we still have a chance. We are still alive. “

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