Liverpool were torn apart by Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final clash and according to Paolo Di Canio, Zinedine Zidane exposed a weakness that Liverpool have been living with all throughout this season.
The midfield trio of Kroos, Casemiro and Modric ran the show for Real Madrid for the full 90 minutes and the first goal of the match was scored courtesy of a superb long range pass from Toni Kroos to Vinicius Jr.
The second goal might have stemmed from a mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold but this also came about thanks to a long ball from midfield. And according to former PL legend Di Canio, Zinedine Zidane chose to focus on Liverpool’s inability to deal with long balls and players like Modric and Kroos made this simple plan successful on the pitch.
He said on Sky Italia, as quoted by Tuttomercatoweb: “In addition to Kroos’ performance, I want to highlight the coach’s study of the match.
“Liverpool have already conceded goals with these long balls this year and Zidane knew it.
“Paradoxically we thought that with Keita there was more aggression, [However]Liverpool actually played often in the opposing half but without affecting. The 3-1 Klopp holds tight, more than this tonight Liverpool could not do.”
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Even the Madrid manager explained after the match why he asked his players to exploit the shapes in the full-back areas of Liverpool’s defence.
He said, as cited by Liverpool Echo: “Liverpool’s fullbacks go forward a lot, so it worked out well for us and for Vini. There was an order to look for long balls behind them when we recovered the ball.”
Zidane was missing some key players like Hazard, Ramos and Raphael Varane on the night and this is why everyone thought Real Madrid will have a tough time in taking control of the game.
But in all fairness, Liverpool had no idea how to deal with the Madrid attacks with players like Keita and Alexander-Arnold being caught out of position every other minute. While they did manage to pull things back on track in the second half but by then the Spanish side had managed to take a two-goal lead and Zidane was more than happy to defend this advantage.
The away goal means Liverpool still remain alive in the tie but Zinedine Zidane will fully understand that an early goal for their side at Anfield will kill off the competition without much fuss.