Saluting Liverpool’s Champions League Winning Defence

Liverpool managed to win their sixth Champions League/ European Cup title last night as they defeated Tottenham Hotspur in Madrid.

Now the match wasn’t a thriller as Jurgen Klopp’s men won 2-0 but the back four and their goalkeeper were terrific and have been all season.

The Reds lost to Real Madrid in last season’s final and a lot of blame was laid at the door of keeper Loris Karius. Now I don’t believe it was just the German’s fault, a team wins and loses as a team. That being said I don’t think Karius is a top class shot-stopper and doesn’t instil confidence into his defence.

Klopp and Liverpool were pretty ruthless and loaned Karius out in a two year loan deal to Besiktas. They then spent a whopping £67m on Brazilian number one Alisson.

The money was well spent as the number one has been superb in his debut season.

As well as being a great goalie, the keeper is also terrific when he has the ball played to his feet.

No team in the Premier League conceded less than The Reds twenty-two goals this year.

The Brazilian kept a cleansheet in yesterday’s final. He was hardly called upon in the first half but that didn’t impact on his concentration levels as Spurs started breaking through in the second half. He had two or three decent saves (Eight in total according to Whoscored) and made sure that he parried those efforts away from the danger zone.

His distribution was pretty good too and he even started a few counter attacks with his accurate passing.

The Liverpool defence are a lot more assured and comfortable knowing Alisson is waiting behind them!

Another vital cog in the Liverpool defensive machine has been Virgil van Dijk.

The Rolls Royce like centre-back has been an inspiration since he arrived at Anfield in January 2018. He never seems to panic, makes inch perfect interceptions and outruns most opposition attackers.

Since his arrival, Van Dijk has had to partner various defensive sidekicks and his presence always seems to get the best out of his teammates.

Last night, Virgil made sure that he smothered Harry Kane any time the England captain received the ball. A clearly rusty Kane just couldn’t get a handle on the fixture. At one point Son Heung-Min made a breakaway into the Reds penalty area but the South Korean couldn’t escape Van Dijk’s clutches as the Dutchman strode in and steered the ball away for a corner.

Alongside Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip gave another assured performance.

He bossed the ball in the air, winning three aerial battles during the final. He also claimed an assist by setting up Divock Origi to claim the game’s second strike!

The Cameroonian international has had a terrific last six months and the Telegraph are reporting that Joel  is on cusp of signing a new deal at Anfield.

It was appropriate that twenty-two year old Joe Gomez was called upon to help see the game out. Joe was fantastic during the first half of the season before injury curtailed the youngster’s campaign. His pace and ball playing qualities were excellent alongside Virgil in those early months of the season.

Liverpool probably have the two best full-backs playing today.

Andrew Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold have had terrific seasons. Between them they’ve created twenty-eight assists this season. That’s sensational and they’re the two players that make this Liverpool team tick and transition the team from defence into attack.

They are both disciplined when defending, charge forward all day long and put in fantastic crosses that cause havoc in the opposition’s penalty area.

Even as their team struggled in possession for much of last night’s encounter both Robertson and Alexander-Arnold still produced a number of great balls into the box.

The dynamic duo also give 100% to the team’s cause and those are two foot-soldiers that Klopp knows that he can always count on.

It was emotional to see Alexander-Arnold happy but remain grounded after the final whistle was blown (Source – Marca):

“I’m just another boy from Liverpool whose dreams have come true,” 

“When we look back we won’t remember that it was a boring game,” 

“We’ll remember that we won the Champions League.”

I’m pretty sure the defence will see some changes during the off-season. The likes of Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno and Nathaniel Clyne might be allowed to depart Merseyside and replacements will be sought.

But Jurgen Klopp knows he has a tremendous defensive core and that group will be there battling during every game during next season as they did this term.

People always love to gush over creative forwards but sometimes we need to applaud a great defensive unit and Liverpool have a superb defensive unit!

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