Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool: Tactical analysis shows how Zidane bested Klopp


Real Madrid hold the upper hand in their Champions League quarter-final clash with Liverpool.

Fans around the world cast their minds back to the dramatic 2018 climax when the two European juggernauts were drawn against each other and their long-awaited reunion didn’t disappoint.

In fact, the scoreline was exactly the same with Los Blancos once again running away 3-1 victors, though Liverpool aren’t dead and buried in 90 minutes as they were in the one-off clash in Kiev.

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool

Real took the lead in stunning circumstances when Toni Kroos’ mesmeric pass was finished off by Vinicius Junior, before Marco Asensio doubled their lead from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s error.

There was a brief moment of reprieve for the Kopites in the second-half when Mohamed Salah bagged an away goal, but another strike from Vinicius ensured that Real were comfortable winners.

And truth be told, the result was symptomatic of Liverpool’s struggles through the 2020/21 campaign as a whole and it remains to be seen whether they will even retain their Champions League spot.


Klopp vs Zidane

As such, many supporters were looking at Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano clash through the eyes of the managers, comparing how Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane handled such an important fixture.

Obviously, you don’t need to be a footballing expert to gather that Zidane, by way of winning the match, got the better of his adversary, but make no mistake about how convincingly he did so.

Besides, it’s not for no reason that Zidane was being widely praised across social media with many floating the interesting argument that the Real icon isn’t given due praise for his management.

And it’s a line of attack that I subscribe to because the Real manager is often dismissed as having only been so successful because of the oft-limitless resources given to him at the Bernabeu.


Tactical analysis of Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool

But Tuesday night couldn’t possibly have made those claims look any sillier and there’s no better way to demonstrate that fact than via a fascinating tactical analysis by YouTuber ‘Football Made Simple’.

That’s because the football gurus, who boast over 300,000 subscribers, dedicated eight minutes to a gripping deconstruction of how ‘Zidane outdid Klopp’ during their Champions League clash.

So, do yourselves a favour and check out the full video down below because it could give you a different perspective on Zidane the manager:

It makes you appreciate world-class coaches like never before, doesn’t it? But before we wrap up, let’s rewind a second and focus on three of the most interesting tactical points that were raised.

Exploiting Liverpool’s key mistake

Real were able to exploit Liverpool’s failure to press consistently with their front three by passing the ball to their full-backs early, allowing them to put the Reds’ narrower 4-3-3 formation under pressure.

And this also allowed Real to damage their opponents with long balls as Kroos had plenty of time in the midfield, particularly for the first goal, to expose Liverpool’s high line with penetrating passes.


Allowing Kroos to control the game

A crucial way that Zidane set up Real to get the best out of Kroos was by using Asensio and Vinicius to occupy the half-spaces and therefore pull Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho deeper.

This, in turn, ensured that Kroos would have more space whenever he dropped into the deep-lying midfield position to either dictate the play as a ‘quarterback’ or kickstart shorter passing moves.


Cutting off Fabinho – and making them miss VVD

But Modric was also given a key role in pushing further forward and using his fantastic footballing brain to cut off the angles when Liverpool looked to pass out from the back to Fabinho in midfield.

And with Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak unable to play the penetrative long balls of Virgil van Dijk, Real were unafraid to commit an extra man into their press and unsettle the Reds’ possession.


So, it’s fair to say that Zidane had Klopp under his thumb during their clash in the Spanish capital, but make no mistake that it’s only half-time in their quest to reach the Champions League semis.

And although there can be no denying that Zidane had the tactical edge this time around, let’s just say that Liverpool have something of a knack when it comes to European comebacks…

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