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Football: Final thread of the season. Start delayed.


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2 hours ago, Spockydog said:

What the fuck is wrong with people?

 

It's like Millwall or Chelsea in 1986.  Do they want the barriers to come back?

I guess the police that should have been at this game were all busy in the cordon gassing Liverpool supporters up in Paris.

On the other hand, someone needs to send this film to MLB scouts, as I see some potentially terrific arms in that flare-launching crowd.

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Since it’s a holiday Monday here, I’ll inflict upon you my take-aways from the CL final:

The fan congestion problems need to independently investigated but, regardless of cause, it detracted from Liverpool’s support and probably made some players anxious for their family and friends.  For a team that feeds on emotion, this was a problem.

The pre-match show was terrible, both in actual quality and in forced, tone-deaf cultural importation from America.

Konate was Liverpool’s best performer on the night.  That’s incredible for a 22yr old still finding his feet at a new club, new league and new system.

Liverpool largely found their usual rhythm for most of the first 30 minutes, and forced some good pressure and several shots.  But only Mane’s shot required a great save at this stage — the others just weren’t that threatening.  And Liverpool’s tempo was slower than usual, whether being careful not to get caught on a cheap counterattack or unconsciously absorbing some of Madrid’s slow tempo.

It was noticeable that the two teams had prepared for each other: Madrid were sitting very deep and looking to hit long balls over the top to Vinicius especially or Valverde, while Carvajal and Mendy were staying very tight to Diaz and Salah.  Liverpool were not pressing as high as usual because Madrid were able to short-pass out of pressure and set up the long out-ball by Kroos, while Trent and Konate clearly were tasked with covering back quickly against Vinicius.

Liverpool had ~25 shots in the match, but most were poor quality.  Mane and Salah each had one very good shot in either half (and Salah had a bucket of unconvincing attempts too). The midfield sat a bit deep so the forwards seemed isolated in a lot of the open play.  The crossing and set pieces were very poor and posed no threat.  Diaz was easily contained by Carvajal, and was too predictable about looking to shift to his right foot.  After the first 30 minutes or so, Madrid got comfortable with the Liverpool attack pattern and the jeopardy dropped a lot.

Madrid posed very little threat themselves.  They had two dangerous moments, and both came down Liverpool’s left where Robertson got caught too far upfield and then VVD didn’t actually close down the attacker.  First Benzema waltzed almost to the 6 yard box before eventually scoring offside in the second phase (Konate’s only big error of the night: he should have booted that clear instead of dithering to allow a second phase), then later Valverde had lots of time and space to hit a misdirected shot that became a cross for Vinicius.  Trent’s defending at the back post for the goal was woefully inept.  FB 101 there: he had the position but never looked over his shoulder for Vinicius.

Trent’s crossing was as also poor (as was Robertson’s and Henderson’s), and his two shots in the box were both terrible — as bad as Keita’s.  His open play was pretty good but this was a night when the trade-off between his strengths and weaknesses didn’t go well.  Both he and Salah seemed too desperate at times and they were forcing or snatching at situations.

As Liverpool chased the game, they mustered a few good chances (Salah’s right foot shot was the best opportunity), but mostly Madrid thwarted their build up with lots of numbers in their own box.  Courtois, Casemiro, Militao and Carvajal were probably their best performers on the night in that approximate order, which says a lot.

Ultimately, Liverpool struggled once again to score against a defensive opponent who posed a real counterattacking threat, just as they did against Chelsea, Spurs and Villarreal.  Looking ahead, I think Liverpool will need to refresh the attack and add a new dimension.  They scored an incredible number of goals this season but the goals got scarcer as fatigue set in and the quality of opponents went higher.  Mane was pretty poor for the first half of the season and all of last season, Jota lost form badly for the last three months, Salah lost all form after AFCON, and Firmino showed a few glimmers late in the season after being terrible for most of two seasons.  Diaz brought new energy and new threat but frankly his end product is lacking and I really hope he sharpens that up (as Suarez did).

They also need more attacking threat from MF.  The MF is good at regaining possession and maintaining territorial dominance but doesn’t otherwise contribute much to the attack.  Keita and Elliott (and Ox) are meant to be the more attacking MFers breaking lines but we didn’t see much of that again this season.  Thiago and Fabinho fill their roles very well but it would be even better if we had a DM who had both of their skill sets (does one even exist?) in order to have two MF roles that can push forward and create uncertainty for opposing defenders.

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3 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

Thiago and Fabinho fill their roles very well but it would be even better if we had a DM who had both of their skill sets (does one even exist?) in order to have two MF roles that can push forward and create uncertainty for opposing defenders.

Thiago and Fabinho are two different players/fulfill different roles.

Fabinho (like Rodri at City) is genuine number 6. His job is to shield the defense. That's even more vital for Liverpool as their full backs are effectively wingers (especially true for Arnold) that can and will leave the CBs exposed at times. Fabinho's is pretty much the last player role you want to toy with. 

Really, don't listen to any fan podcasts that suggests that Rodri or Fabinho are not good enough/lack something to their game. They are by design defensive minded players. They are not supposed to be flash. If a player with their qualities (even a good tier below theirs quite frankly) was available, I assure you PG and Consi would be storming United's board room and force them at gun point to sign that player. 

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49 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

They are not supposed to be flash. If a player with their qualities (even a good tier below theirs quite frankly) was available, I assure you PG and Consi would be storming United's board room and force them at gun point to sign that player. 

 

While I totally agree with you that I'd storm the stadium to get a player of that type in United's squad, you've definitely misread Isk's post if you think his complain is that they're not flash. His point (I believe) being that both Thiago and Fabinho are really good but since Fabinho is physical but not a great passer whereas Thiago is a great passer but not hugely mobile on the ball, but- crucially- both are ultimately more-or-less holding players, playing them together leaves a gap in dynamism in the forward part of midfield. 

I don't think the solution is looking for the mythical beast that can break like Fabinho but pass like Thiago, though, I can think of one player* in the last 25 years who fit that description (Roy Keane, who also did the 'going box to box' bit but he just isn't repeatable). It's getting a player who is either physical or a passer but can also get up and down the pitch more. Like I think Liverpool could probably do fine playing Thiago, holding position, alongside Declan Rice, or Fabinho behind someone of the style of Tielemans or Bissouma, without losing the hustle and control the current set-up gives them.


*okay, maybe also Busquets but I hate him so I don't wanna say that

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By flash I meant those defense splitting longballs, so basically being the shield and creator.

Thiago is a creator. He is a Xabi Alonso like player. You could also label Thiago and Fabinho as brains (Thiago) and muscles (Fabinho), if you will. Altho, that's a bit unfair, as in the role Fabinho plays, also requires quite a bit of thinking. Just that that you have to see the oppositions move in advance, and not your own teams.

Keane isn't in the same ball park wrt to the passing and playmaking skills of Thiago. He simply isn't. Keane was a really good and fun player (I have a soft spot for the more workhorse players, you actually need in a team). Over at Chelsea you have a similar partnership. Jorginho as the creative player (altho of a different style, not with the accurate long range passes, more the subtle short passes aimed to off balance the opposition 3 balls later), and Kante as the water carrier, who does more of the dirty work. Kante sorta also has both sides of the game in him, but his primary role is also shield the defense, and provided cover. Chelsea is gonna have so much fun replacing him down the line - I somehow doubt they are selling him to you,  even if his legs are starting to leave him. 

Having that said, yeah, Busquets is sorta filling both roles. 

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37 minutes ago, polishgenius said:

I don't think the solution is looking for the mythical beast that can break like Fabinho but pass like Thiago, though, I can think of one player* in the last 25 years who fit that description (Roy Keane, who also did the 'going box to box' bit but he just isn't repeatable).

Come on, Roy Keane was a very good player. He was and excellent defensive midfielder, a very good box to box midfielder and quite a good passer. He did not pass like Thiago.

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Posted (edited)

@polishgenius understood my point. The problem isn’t flashy, it’s that they are both highly specialized roles that don’t directly contribute to the attack, effectively a destroyer #6 and a deep-lying playmaker.  It’s as close to Mascherano and Alonso as we’ve had for a long time, but they were combined with Gerrard in a very attacking role to create goals for Torres/Kuyt/Benayoun and to score himself.  We don’t get that from Henderson or Keita.

Thiago is a beautiful passer and hands-down my favorite to just watch play.  But his deep positioning means he won’t get many assists.  He’ll make the pass that creates a new angle of attack, and 2-3 passes later leads to a goal, provided we have others ready to make those next passes, which unfortunately tends to be our gap now.

If we have both Fabinho and Thiago in relatively deep roles, then we won’t get much attacking contribution from MF.  And when playing against deep defenses, it really helps to have AMFs who pose a goal threat from distance while also able to make runs beyond the forwards at times.  So our MF three will have more attacking potency if we can find a new Busquets that combines the role of Fabinho and Thiago, which means there are two MF roles available to support the attack, or else find an AMF who offers a lot more creative threat (like Mount?) than Henderson.

Fabinho + Thiago represents a very solid double pivot, and needs a more creative, risk-taking complement (Mount? Pogba-ish?).  Or, better yet, combine the double pivot into a hugely efficient single pivot that frees up a second AMF to participate in the attack because parked buses are our kryptonite atm and it would help to have another player making unpredictable runs or offering an extra angle for passes.

To be fair, in our current set-up, when we face a deep defense that denies space behind for the pacy forwards, it’s supposed to be the FBs who get freed up in the inside channel to join the attack and make dangerous crosses.  But that has become predictable, and only Jota is particularly good at converting crosses, so we need to inject a different dimension again.  Reworking the MF is probably a start because it’s already due some attention.

Edited by Iskaral Pust
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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

Keane isn't in the same ball park wrt to the passing and playmaking skills of Thiago. He simply isn't. Keane was a really good and fun player (I have a soft spot for the more workhorse players, you actually need in a team).

 

I'm sorry but anyone who thinks of Keane as just a workhorse and compares him to Kante- as much as I love Kante as a player- simply doesn't remember him properly. He was a brilliant passer. You only have to look at his most famous game, Juve in the second leg- when you read about that game you'd think he dominated it by just running around and tackling everyone, but if you go back and watch some of it (it's on dailymotion) while that was there it wasn't what turned the game around, it was the fact that near enough every time Keane got the ball- whether he won it himself or from a team-mate- we were on the front foot within seconds.  
I think people also overlook that for a significant portion of Keane's time at United he was playing in a two-man midfield alongside a Scholes who was back then an out-and-out no10, drawing more comparison to Bergkamp or Cantona than the Pirlos and Xavis of his later career. We couldn't have gotten away with that if Keane wasn't great on the ball in his own right. Is he exactly as good a passer as Thiago in the sense of 'in this second, with the ball at his feet, he's going to find that player'? Probably not, but he wasn't that far off and he had the greater mobility to make him just as good at getting the ball about in general.

(Here's an article which, while obviously picking out some of the best moments to highlight, gets across what I'm talking about wrt Keane being a super line-breaker with the ball)


Aaanyway. Back to the original main point.

 

8 hours ago, Iskaral Pust said:

and needs a more creative, risk-taking complement (Mount? Pogba-ish?).

 

If I was y'all I'd be taking a look at Jacob Ramsey as your Henderson understudy/eventual replacement, I think he's the dog's bollocks. But it is early days for him. 

 

Edited by polishgenius
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Pretty excited for scotland and ukraine. Emotionally I want ukraine to go through, but for the scots on the board and a few of my close friends, I want scotland to go through. It's hard to pick who I'm rooting for in this game.

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If the leaked new Spurs away shirt is real it is the shittest strip I've ever seen in my life. Can't copy link for some reason but Google it, prepare yourself to be traumatised though.

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25 minutes ago, BigFatCoward said:

If the leaked new Spurs away shirt is real it is the shittest strip I've ever seen in my life. Can't copy link for some reason but Google it, prepare yourself to be traumatised though.

It's nowhere near as bad as last years. This is what my kid looks like after playing with paints all day.

https://www.r-gol.com/en/football-shirt-nike-tottenham-hotspur-fc-21-22-away-stadium,p-147868

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8 hours ago, Raja said:

Pretty excited for scotland and ukraine. Emotionally I want ukraine to go through, but for the scots on the board and a few of my close friends, I want scotland to go through. It's hard to pick who I'm rooting for in this game.

For one night only:

Screw those guys. Get intae them!

 

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