23 October 2014

Visualized: Liverpool 0-3 Real Madrid

Previous Match Infographics: QPR (a), West Brom (h), Basel (a), Everton (h), West Ham (a), Ludogorets (h), Aston Villa (h), Tottenham (a), Manchester City (a), Southampton (h)

As always, match data from Stats Zone, except shot location from Squawka and average player position from ESPN FC.

In both attack and defense, the stats speak for themselves.

Allowed only four shots inside the box: two blocked, one off target, and one on target?

That's a paddling.

Your first shot from inside the box after the opposition's already scored three goals?

That's a paddling.

Just two shots on target in total?

That's a paddling.

Seven of 12 shots in total blocked?

That's a paddling.

Completing nearly 500 passes and 90% of your total passes but creating just 10 open play chances?

That's a paddling.

Barely more than 50% of your tackles successful (22 of 40)?

That's a paddling.

The opposition scoring three goals from its first four shots on target, from its first six shots in total?

That's a paddling.

Another two goals conceded which started from set plays?

That's a paddling.

Liverpool were simply out-classed in every part of the pitch, in every phase of the game. That's not necessarily surprising, even at Anfield. You'd be hard-pressed to find a single Liverpool player who'd get in that Real Madrid XI.

Liverpool's continuing woes in the attacking third, in front of goal, remain a massive problem. Even though that's been a lingering issue, more than a little credit is due to Real's defense. Seven blocked shots is massive. 26 successful tackles and 13 interceptions inside your defensive third is massive. Liverpool successful with just two of 22 crosses, zero of nine corners, and four of 19 attacking third dribbles is massive.

That was a supremely well-organized defense. Better attacks would have run into the same brick wall, just as Bayern Munich did last April. This is, after all, a side that's conceded just once in the last five matches. The only way Liverpool were scoring was if one of those speculative efforts from distance (specifically Gerrard or Coutinho's) were even better placed, or had Allen's difficult chance been on-target in the 43rd minute, or if Casillas had made one of the mistakes that he's increasingly prone to make. Joe Allen had both of Liverpool's danger zone chances, the other an immediately blocked shot in the 50th from the top of the box. Joe Allen. That's a full-on smothering. On a different day, maybe Liverpool lucks their way into a solitary strike, but they certainly weren't getting three.

Meanwhile, Liverpool do not have a well-organized defense, supremely, moderately, or marginally. I still maintain there was little to be done about the first goal, although, yes, maybe Lovren intercepts James' pass if he doesn't take that two-step charge forward, but the assist and strike really were that good. The second and third goals, on the other hand. Set play organization, individual mistakes. Again.

Liverpool had partly cleared the corner. Mignolet came and punched and it fell to Coutinho, who lost possession to James. From there, Johnson and Coutinho switch off as Real pass across the top of Liverpool's box, Benzema with space behind Johnson (about as unfair a match-up as you'll find) and Coutinho completely failing to track James' run back into the box. It's too easy for Kroos, his cross is odds-on to reach one of the those. Of course, it did.

Somehow, Kroos' corner eluded three Liverpool defenders, with Skrtel the player who's supposed to be marking Pepe. Three defenders go for the header, all miss, and Pepe's able to head down. So Mignolet, charges out to try to deny the space, which isn't the worst idea in the world, but he's a step too slow and misjudges, and Johnson and Gerrard ball-watch as Benzema's first to it for a tap-in.

Systemic failures and individual errors. The never-ending story.

Liverpool were never going to outscore the opposition game after game after game after selling Suarez, especially with Sturridge once again on the sidelines. So fix the damned defense first. You've spent somewhere around £40m on center-backs and £20m on fullbacks in the last two summers. There's absolutely no reason that it should be getting worse.

Then we can start worrying about whether or not Balotelli's a failure and how to fix Liverpool's disjointed attack.


Anonymous said...

Can we have Clarke as defensive coach again? Seems like when he was around we had one of the best defensive lines in PL.

Anonymous said...

Can Brendan play center back? Next Tuesday would be a good start. He's getting frustrated with conceding soft goals EVERY match. They're evidently not listening. So, suit up and show them how to do it. Would help too if he could, at the same time as delivering his lesson, play Khedira at DM to finally have someone to protect the center backs.

If he thought Real at Anfield was tough to take, I'm not sure how much he's going to appreciate Real at the Bernabeu with 85,000 frantic Madrista's egging Ronaldo and Bale(?) on.

Play James Pearce at striker, too. He can show Isco , Varane and Pepe what's what. No doubt. Pepe wouldn't dare ask him for his autograph after getting lit up by him with a hat-trick during the game. Carlo wouldn't tolerate it.

Vercingetora said...

I'm sorry to be so strident, but I'm lathered.

I don't think fixing the attack and the defense need to be fixed in seriatum.

Especially when the solution to the attack and a partial solution to the defense is to give up on the disinterested, mediocre Balotelli. Two minutes into the match, he has Johnson running onto the back post unmarked. Instead of creating a wonderful chance, he takes on two defenders and turns the ball over.

Throughout the half, he never pressed in tandem with his teammates, but only at his own leisure.

He's an empty red shirt and should be out of the club in January, if we can find someone to take him. He's half the player Keane was and Keane was sold at a loss in January. Why not Mario?

Anonymous said...

Come on now, Vercingetora.

It's much more important for our season that Brendan find a way to fix the defense. We routinely gift a goal a game and sometimes even 2. That has got to be addressed. No other team in the league does that. Well, actually, United does it once in awhile. Like when they were 3-1 up against Leicester and lost 5-3. Or like when they got trashed by MK Dons 4-0.

But we picked up 2 quality fullbacks. Thank gawd. And paid £20 mil for one center back this summer and £18 mil for another center back last summer. We should not be conceding goals like a bunch or clowns wearing clownshoes. We just shouldn't. That has got to be sorted. NOW. There's is nothing worse than gifting goals. Not when you have to work your ass off to get one. Then through some set play, or silly marking give away one. Nothing crushes team morale and takes away points more than that.

The offense will work itself out when Danny is back and he and Balotelli play 2 up top and get on a roll. That's also assuming that Roy stays out of our hair. Sterling, Lallana and Coutinho will chip in as well.

Real Madrid gave us the expected stuffing at Anfield. We are not in their league in any phase of the game. Their defense schooled us. How many times did Sterling have the ball in dangerous positions only to have nothing happen. In the EPL he can dribble at speed and get a shot off. Against Real they always got a foot in and their body on him and/or took the ball away. I don't remember him having any dangerous shots. He should have considering where he had possession of the ball at times and the initial space he had.

Their offense scored 1 good goal and 2 give aways with losing Benz in the 6 yard box. Even that first goal, Lovren should have stopped if he wasn't ball watching JRod, when he should have marked Ronaldo's run.

I put that loss down firstly to Madrid's quality and secondly to our terrible defensive play. And their defense is rock solid. They could have scored a few more goals in the 2nd half, but they took their foot off the pedal being up 3 goals.

Balotelli, and the mysterious case of the missing offense, especially against teams like Real, who defend like champs, is not the most critical fix on the list. Danny will fix it.

Vercingetora said...

Agree on Lovren and the first goal. Sakho, when healthy, should be given a good opportunity to reclaim the spot.

Wishful thinking though on Mario.