200 meters from Anfield, the patrons of a pub that was once a modest church dispensed liters of a beer whose symbol was a Madrid chulapo with British joy. The crowd took it easy at the entrance to Anfield, although then it exploded as always with the You’ll never walk alone and blew the Champions League anthem, while Klopp inflamed the stands without reaching minute two. The expected. By minute 15, Madrid was already falling apart: 2-0, and thank you. The normal thing in a tie for whites. There was also a goalkeeper (Courtois) messing it up under sticks, which Alisson later imitated on the other coast. The typical thing when Madrid and Liverpool meet, that the goals commit calamities, although this time multiplied by two. And then there was the classic white resurrection from the most absolute of voids. More normality if you have to take into account that what is routine for Madrid is abnormal for the rest of humanity. It has been like this for a year, and now it also goes back outside.
Alisson, Virgil Van Dijk, A. Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez (Matip, min. 73), Stefan Bajcetic, Fabinho, Henderson (Milner, min. 73), Salah, Gakpo (Roberto Firmino, min. 63) and Darwin Núñez (Diogo Jota, min. 63)
Courtois, Eder Militao, Alaba (Nacho, min. 27), Dani Carvajal, Rüdiger, Federico Valverde, Modric (Kroos, min. 86), Camavinga, Benzema (Marco Asensio, min. 86), Vinicius Junior and Rodrygo (Dani Ceballos , min 80)
goals 1-0 min. 3: Darwin Nunez. 2-0 min. 14: Salah. 2-1 min. 20: Vinicius Junior. 2-2 min. 35: Vinicius Junior. 2-3 min. 47: Eder Militao. 2-4 min. 55: Benzema. 2-5 min. 66: Benzema.
Referee István Kovács
Yellow cards Vinicius Junior (min. 60) and Harvey Elliot (min. 92)
Anfield’s Vinicius was also normal. The boss of this Madrid, the lifeguard of a movie that Madrid has been repeating since last season. He now scores the goals he is looking for and also when flees of the plays, as in 2-2. “The most decisive player in world football. There is no other with this continuity”, assessed Carlo Ancelotti.
The first thing Militão did was throw two long balls at his compatriot. The team breathes for Vini and does not hide it. Until in one of those attempts to stick his head out in the middle of the downpour, the winger sang bingo with a sensational shot with his right foot, curved, strong, down: 2-1. The start of the ski lift.
A match against Liverpool, coincidentally, marked the beginning of his growth in the elite. It happened in the spring of 2020, with a Zidane who looked at him with suspicion and came to ask for his sale. However, in the Valdebebas moor, in the first leg of the quarterfinals, the Frenchman gave flight to two extremes that night, him and Asensio, to dig into the holes of Klopp’s team, and the young man, finally, stuck out his chest with a double when the mockery about his expertise against the rival framework was already many. He did not have more glory in the outcome of that campaign, but it was his first call for attention in Europe. The definitive explosion came months later, already under the mantle of Ancelotti, with whom he scored the goal in Paris against Liverpool.
For the enlightened like him, goals also fall from the sky. It was the case of 2-2. Valverde leaked a pass that did not arrive and the ball ended up at the feet of Alisson who, in front of the winger, tried to start the play with a pass so soft that it bounced off a Vinicius who had already turned around to protect himself from the hit, as a natural instinct: 2-2 without wanting to. The confirmation of another chapter of white escapism. He also caused the foul that gave rise to Militão’s 2-3 -the death sentence grid, according to Jürgen Klopp confessed-, and linked so that Benzema cooked the 2-5. Of his 10 goals away from home throughout the season, seven have been abroad.
The night also left an almost existential question: What the hell happens with the goalkeepers in every Madrid-Liverpool game? Their last two Champions League finals were decided by them: with two errors by Karius in 2018 that cannot be explained even in a fry match, and last year with a colossal performance by Courtois. This time, in the absence of one, two. Both screwing up.
The Belgian puffed out his chest, and rightly so, in the preview of the last final about his great improvement with his feet. He gave the example of the play that led to the 3-1 penalty against City, in the comeback at the Bernabéu. He noted how, being a left-hander, he started from behind with his right leg, a reflection of the confidence he had gained. And so it was. However, this Tuesday a knot was tied like no one remembers. Salah overcame him, the ball bounced off his knee and he lost his way before the Egyptian. “It’s a bit bad luck. Not much happens. A bit of a difficult ball from Carva, but I control it well. I see Salah going to the left, I try to go to the right…”, the Belgian tried to explain later. The misfortunes under sticks were joined shortly after by Alisson, who collaborated in a day of glory for Vinicius, the reviver of Anfield.
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