Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid Vs. Liverpool

23 Oct

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions LeagueFull disclosure: I was a little nervous going into this match. Not because I didn’t think we were strong, but because of where it fell in our schedule. I also kept thinking of our record against Liverpool. We’ve faced them three times and never beat them.

I was not, however, as nervous as watishista Mandi who is a huge Liverpool fan and the reason I’ve been to Anfield and the Melwood training grounds. Don’t worry, I took an extra long shower when we got back to London.

Lineups:

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet; Glen Johnson, Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel, Alberto Moreno; Jordan Henderson, Steven Gerrard, Joe Allen; Raheem Sterling, Mario Balotelli, Philippe Coutino.

Real Madrid: Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa, Pepe, Raphael Varane, Marcelo; Toni Kroos, Luka Modric, James Rodriguez; Isco, Karim Benzema, Cristiano Ronaldo

FBL-EUR-C1-LIVERPOOL-REALMADRID FBL-EUR-C1-LIVERPOOL-REALMADRIDWhen the teams arrived, Brendan Rodgers greeted Ancelotti with a very strange look. Was he trying to intimidate him? Or was he scared by the man who guided us to La Decima?

We didn’t get any pre-match besos, as Sergio is still injured. But we did get a bit of a nervous looking Iker. Anfield can do that to a person.

I also had to add this photo. Look at this little boy’s face. Priceless. I believe we all look a bit like that when faced with Cristiano Ronaldo. He is, in fact, a real person.

How much gel DO you put in your hair?

How much gel DO you put in your hair?

Anfield is much smaller than it looks on TV and so the sound just engulfs the place. And the Liverpool fans made it sound like the stadium held 90,000 instead of 45,000. I know I joked earlier that I took an extra long shower following my visit to Anfield, but it is truly an incredible place.

The match kicked off with Iker being brave enough to choose to defend the Kop end first. Smart tactics on his part? We are a second half team, after all. Would it have been more difficult to defend the Kop end in the second half if we’d dropped a goal? Guess we won’t know unless this happens again next year.

Almost immediately, Jordan Henderson clattered into Cristiano. It wasn’t too much but it was enough to maybe tell him that Liverpool weren’t going to just sit back and let our Man-Wonder run all over them. Or was it?

Liverpool were pressing pretty hard, getting some good counter attacking chances of their own. And in the 5th minute we narrowly escaped what probably should have been a Liverpool freekick on the edge of the area. Arbeloa tripped up a bit over Sterling, and the ref decided not to call it. To be fair, it should have been a free kick whether it was accidental or not. Sterling is lightning fast and a smart striker, though a bit immature, given that he’s only 19 (if rumors are to be believed, we have our eye on him for January). Arbeloa is 32 years old and doesn’t have the speed to keep up. I worried a bit for that.

Our first real shot came by way of Cristiano in the 8th minute. Unfortunately, it was directly at Mignolet.

Casillas made a good save in the 10th minute to deny Stevie G. His shot dipped nastily and may have snuck into the bottom corner if not for San Iker.

In the 12th minute, Liverpool earned a corner and Cristiano was back to head it out for another corner. You know, that guy that is only about “Me, me, me” and doesn’t drop back to defend. Ever (I’m looking at you Warren Barton).

Gerrard sent the ball to the near post again. I don’t know what Iker was doing, but he missed completely. Luckily we still managed to clear it.

James had to get a bit of medical attention on the sideline shortly after. I didn’t see what happened, just that he’d been cut above his eye. The referee made a really strange decision to stop the match, even though James was off the pitch. And you could tell that Anfield was NOT happy. What they could be happy about, however, was that James had to change his shirt. Who isn’t happy about a half naked James?

In that last gif, he looks like Toothless from “How To Train Your Dragon.” Or a cat trying to meow. I’m imagining this tiny half-meow coming out of his mouth. Do we have ourselves a new war kitten? Moving on…

Varane was already a beast in our defense. I’m probably going to get a lot of flack for this but, for me, he works better with either Pepe or Sergio than the two of them do together.

We earned a corner in the 19th minute. It was delivered too deep for Cris, but James was there. His shot was just wide.

At some point in the first half, we got a pretty amusing moment between Cristiano and Stevie. Cristiano is pleading with the ref for a free kick and Stevie is having a laugh. It’s actually good to see them together. I think they have a lot of respect for each other.

Finally, after 22 minutes of relatively open play, we got our first goal. And what a beautiful goal it was! Absolutely brilliant touch from Cristiano to finish over Mignolet. And how about that pass by James?! Just as beautiful. It’s the first time that Cris has ever scored at Anfield. Quite a feat given his six years spent in Manchester.

Let’s look at this from another angle. I think we can all appreciate the precision he got on this while being pressured by Skrtel and to get it just out of reach of the 6’4″ Simon Mignolet.

I also like that, to get to that position, he passed it off to James and continued his run. James was good to pick it out, considering he was looking down at the ball and not up at Cris. It was near perfectly weighted over the top to him and Cris was smart to wait for the bounce.

I’m sorry, am I fangirling over this goal? Yes.

I think Liverpool were a bit stunned by that goal, to be honest. They worked extremely well to deny us to that point and were even pushing forward well. And in response, they had a near chance in the 26th minute. Balotelli (who I love but hasn’t seemed to be working well for them) had a good run down the left but his cross couldn’t find Sterling.

We pressed forward again, with the Tanned One exploiting all the space between Liverpool’s defense and midfield (and a comparatively slow Steven Gerrard). But his shot ended up just wide of the post.

But wait two minutes and we shall have another! This time from the original war kitten.

In the 29th minute Benzema headed a floating ball in from Kroos. He was falling backwards as he headed it over Mignolet and I was sure that it was going over the net as well. But it fell into the same corner that Cris found earlier.

In the 35th minute, Kroos earned a yellow card for clattering in Sterling. It was deserved. Sterling seemed the only Liverpool player who was willing to work. My heart was breaking a bit over Balotelli. He’s so inconsistent but when he’s on, he’s brilliant.

Ronaldo played with Skrtel for a bit before Mignolet pushed away his cross. Sterling took off forward, played the ball wide to Balotelli. Mario got the shot off, but it was blocked.

In the 39th minute, we countered well but Cris couldn’t control the ball and Johnson conceded a corner.

But Kroos’s corner found Pepe, who couldn’t control it. Mignolet came out but only managed to knock the ball toward Benzema. Liverpool, surprisingly, were unable to get to it and he swept it easily into the net. It felt a bit like the way we defend set pieces, to be honest. But I’ll take it! War Kitten was doing battle!

Liverpool restarted and Joe Allen was the first to look like he still wanted to give us some trouble. In the 42nd minute, he got to Balotelli’s cut back but it just wasn’t happening. Then in the one minute of stoppage time that the ref added for stopping the match earlier, Coutinho smashed the woodwork. It beat Iker, much to my wordless sounds of protest, but shot back out thanks to the forcefield our capitan sometimes puts around his goal.

And that was it for the first half. We were dominating a weary looking Liverpool.

Before I get into the second half, I want to talk about this moment between Balotelli and Pepe. Everyone is making a huge deal of it. I feel that the pundits on Fox (mainly Eric Wynalda) made a much bigger fuss than a lot of fans are.

Photo 13Balotelli swapped shirts with Pepe as they walked into the tunnel. I don’t understand the backlash. This happens all the time. Players swap shirts at the half before entering the tunnel. It’s a thing. So why are we acting like Balotelli betrayed fans? It’s ridiculous. In Madrid, no one gives a shit. I realize that Liverpool were behind but it’s still not unheard of to see a player swap while behind. Balotelli didn’t have the best half but you can’t even blame that entirely on him. The people blaming Balotelli are the same ones that make excuses for Torres. So was Balotelli wrong? Or are people just finding more things to pin on him? Is he just the convenient scapegoat?

Anyway… I leave the first half with these gems of our normally calm and collected Mister.

Second Half:

During the match, Bale tweeted that he was watching from home. He obviously picked up a habit from Alonso before he departed.

Liverpool got the second half underway by bringing in Adam Lallana for Balotelli. Lallana has been relatively good for them this season. They hoped he’d be able to show that here.

In the 48th minute, we conceded a corner that Gerrard delivered in only to have Cristiano head it clear. Again, the guy that never gets back to defend…

We managed to counter but Isco couldn’t get his shot away after Lovren blocked Marcelo’s cross. Then James took a shot but it was off target.

Back to our defensive end, Sterling crossed it in but it was headed clear. Lallana had a shot but that was blocked. We took off to the other end but Isco lost the ball while playing with it instead of playing it to James.

Play continued back and forth between the two Champions League legends. And then Skrtel lost the ball on the edge of Liverpool’s area. Cristiano’s shot knocked Mignolet over. He probably should have taken it better but it was a brilliant save by Mignolet.

He knows what he did. And Benz finds it amusing.

In the 65th minute, Liverpool made a double change. Emre Can and Lazar Markovic replaced Henderson and Coutinho.

In the 69th minute, Sterling unleashed a shot from the edge of the area. Iker should have caught it easily but instead touched it over the top of the net.

We began just playing with the ball, which meant that Liverpool could have chances. And that made me beyond nervous. However, as Martin Tyler said, Varane was pulling out “Rolls Royce defending.”

James had another chance roll just wide of the post in the 72nd minute.

In the 74th minute, Ancelotti made our first change. In an effort, I’m guessing, to save Cristiano for the Clasico this weekend our beloved Sami made his first appearance back from injury.

Liverpool fans, for all their conflicted respect, gave Cristiano a decent send off. They may not like him due to his years at United but they recognize talent. You can’t deny that.

In the 80th minute, after Modric saw his shot blocked by Mignolet, Kroos got his rest. Our Basque cutie, Illaramendi, was brought on to replace our lost German.

The 83rd minute, Arbeloa got up over Sterling to deny him a consolation goal by heading the ball behind the goal. And in the 84th minute our final substitution saw Nacho (stalker!) in for Marcelo.

The Kop broke out into “You’ll Never Walk Alone” again in the 89th minute but it wasn’t enough to bolster their team to a goal. The whistle was blown after 3 minutes of stoppage time and that was it. Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid.

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid CF - UEFA Champions League

Match Photos:

Post Match Comments:

(from realmadrid.com)

Photo 51

Ancelotti:

“This is an important victory because we put in a very good footballing display,” said the Italian.

After Real Madrid’s comprehensive win at Anfield, Ancelotti was full of praise for the efforts of his players and offered a positive assessment of the state of his team: “We’re in good form and in good shape: focused and playing really well. We go into the Clásico in great shape and Barcelona also go into the match in ideal condition.”

“It’s a very important win because we put in a very good footballing display in a really special atmosphere and against a team that did everything it could to cause us problems.”

Cristiano Ronaldo substitution
“It wasn’t agreed on earlier, but we did it to avoid problems. I didn’t ask him before taking him off. I didn’t need to. It’s impossible to ask a player when he’s on the pitch. Now we all have to do everything we can to recover from this match.”

“I don’t know if we’re in a winning cycle. What I can say is that we have a very competitive squad and this competition brought us a lot of happiness last year. We’re fighting to try to achieve the same this year, but we know that it isn’t easy. We’re full of enthusiasm.”

Liverpool approach
“I think that at the start the roles played by Sterling and Balotelli created danger for us. I really liked Sterling’s play between the lines and he impressed me. After we scored three goals they became a bit frustrated and their mentality was affected. Their heads dropped a little bit.”

Photo 52

Benzema:

“The team is looking strong in every department,” declared Casillas.

Karim Benzema hit a brace in the victory over Liverpool and after the match expressed his happiness at Real Madrid’s performance: “I’m very happy with the match. It was very difficult but we did a great job as a team and what’s important is that we got the three points. We know that this team puts on a lot of pressure, but when we defend well together we can put together counter-attacks to create chances.”

“I give my all whenever I’m on the field. It’s true that in the Champions League I’m lucky enough to score goals but the other competitions are just as important. The team changes when players are missing; now Bale is out, but Isco and James worked well. We have a lot of players to make a good team. We’re in better shape than last year.”

El Clásico
“We know that against Barcelona it’s always a great match and a really difficult one. We’re firing on all cylinders and we’re going to win.”

FBL-EUR-C1-LIVERPOOL-REALMADRID

Casillas:

“The team was really solid”
“We played a really complete match both in defence and in attack. The team was really solid and we have to keep going this way for the whole season, which will be a long and hard one.”

“We’re in really good shape and the team is looking strong in every department. In the matches to come we have to continue in this vein of winning, winning and winning. I think that the good thing is that we feel comfortable in whatever system the coach chooses; that’s fundamental. Knowing that we are a team is what will get us to the final like in other seasons.”

“When I made my debut in September 1999 against Olympiakos, I never thought I would become the player with the second or third most appearances. I’m happy to have that presence at such an important club, one that has made me become known. I have to be forever grateful to it.”

Gratitude for the fans
“At Anfield they’ve always been in the habit of applauding the opposition goalkeeper and it’s something that you feel grateful for, but something we also take away from today are the fans that have come here, and have come in their number. It’s fundamental that the people are behind the team and we hope to come together again in May or June, celebrating another title.”

Match against Barcelona
“We go into the Clásico in good shape. But it’s a different game. What’s important is that we’re playing at home and the aim is to win the match to cut the points gap on Barcelona. Cristiano is in really good form.”

Photo 54

Arbeloa:

“It’s a unique night for the club”
“The Anfield crowd was able to acknowledge the job we did. They know that we have come here full of respect and that’s why they appluaded our win. It’s a unique night for the club. We put in a great performance and we had never won here; I think it’ll live in the memory.”

“Both teams go into the Clásico in top form. We are working very hard and you can see that. The details are what make the difference. If there were reasons to play on Saturday it would be understood, but there aren’t. However, this is how it has been set so we’ll have to recover as quickly as possible.”

Photo 55

Ronaldo:

“We are performing at a high level and the whole team deserves the credit for that”, explained Isco.

Cristiano Ronaldo, Isco and Marcelo spoke to the press after the match. The Portuguese opened the scoring with a goal that puts him level with Raúl as the European Cup’s top goal-scorer: “I’m not worried about beating the record but I am very happy about the good job. The best thing is that the team won and got three points. It was a perfect night”.

“It is a very important victory. I had never won or scored here. I feel good. The record is not the important thing. The important thing is playing well, playing attractive football”.

Three out of three
“Qualification is the priority and now we have a 75% chance of doing that. We have to take it match by match and we know that it will be very tough. Last year with had a great first stage and it is possible to repeat that this year”.

Applause
“I am not surprised that I got an ovation, they have always had a special affection for me. Their culture is different to that of Spain and they also applauded Benzema when he scored”.

The Clásico
“It will be a difficult match because Barcelona are playing well. I’m not going to play against Messi, I’m going to play against Barcelona. They are a great team. Real Madrid and Barcelona are playing each other”.

“We’re not going to make any excuses. But I don’t understand why they put the match on Saturday. It is a difficult match and all footballers know that an extra day’s rest is significant. Cup matches aren’t so important. However, I don’t want to make excuses because the team is fine and confident”.

And here are your post-match social media beauties. I’m still drooling over shirtless Arbeloa, so you’re getting it again even though Lozil dedicated a post to it yesterday.

Our next match is the Clasico on Saturday. EEEEP!

Watishista correspondent hopechaser will be providing you with the Match Recap for that one. I’m terrible at planning and will be on the course of a Spartan race. It’s 11+ miles and I fully expect it to kick my ass. But I will make our resident Spartan proud!

(images and gifs from GF Sports, the-vip-football-collection, football-hqs, and realmadrid.com)

¡Hala Madrid!

-mygypsyspirit

2 Responses to “Match Recap: Champions League – Real Madrid Vs. Liverpool”

  1. hopechaser October 23, 2014 at 11:31 pm #

    James and his “The Shining” moment with the net. “Here’s James!” Probably enjoyed that photo more than I should have. That and him making sure Moreno was okay when his nose was bleeding.

    But, explain the comment about people who are blaming Balotelli also are making excuses for Torres. You lost me.

  2. M October 24, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    I love the way you wrote this recap. Thank you so much for it. It really did feel like I was reliving the match while reading this.

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