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The key to winning Liverpool and Real Madrid

In the final Champions League on Saturday night (2h on August 29), one of the most noticeable hot spots is the corridor where Real Madrid and Liverpool overlap in terms of the influence of the game. Specifically the left wing where Vinicius attacked and the right wing of Trent Alexander-Arnold seen from the other side. They are the key to the attacking phase of the two teams.

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Vinicius beat Alexander-Arnold in the last meeting

In the just-finished La Liga, Vinicius launched 170 accurate passes to his teammates to finish right after the first touch or in the next step. He stands above Karim Benzema, who has 124 similar actions, and Toni Kroos, with 84.

In the Premier League, Alexander-Arnold has made 150 passes to team-mates with one or two touches, more than Salah (133) and Mane (97).

Vinicius averages 5.7 shots per 90 minutes, while Trent’s 4.7.

But that’s when they’re not against each other. When they meet on the pitch, like the next one at the Stade de France, or last year’s fight at Alfredo di Stefano, in the first leg of the Champions League quarter-final (Real Madrid won 3-1), the threat that a creator may pose a risk to the other.

Last year, Zinedine Zidane seemed to have understood that very well, although he did not fully exploit Vinicius’s potential. The goals scored by Real Madrid tell the story.

In the opening situation, Kroos launched a very long pass from home to Alexander-Arnold’s back and came close to the position of Phillips, who played at the center of that match. Vinicius snuck in between them, controlled it with his chest, and then escaped to score.

Not long after that, Kroos resolutely sent the ball to a point behind Trent, when left-back Mendy advanced. The Englishman tries to clear the ball, but becomes the pass to Marco Asensio’s position. The score is 2-0.

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Vinicius has an explosive season

In a situation where Real Madrid sealed a 3-1 victory (Salah shortened the score), Vinicius and Trent met again, this time in the penalty area. The Brazilian moved into the space between Alexander-Arnold and Philips, received Modric’s pass and then finished with a touch of the goal.

It was the first big night of Vinicius with Madrid, an evening in which the young Brazilian sent a message to the future that he was ready for a new position in the team for the 2021-22 season: a balance between dizzying breakthroughs, stopping goal ball.

Meeting in Paris

The match against Liverpool in the heart of Valdebebas, when the Bernabeu stadium was under repair and without spectators because of the pandemic, also predicted another change Vinicius: moving more into the center, as in the first goal. first; and closer to the goal, as in the second goal.

The Brazilian’s leap can be measured through many numbers, for example with the number of goals he has been involved in, with direct goals and assists. In the 2020/21 season, he participated in 13 goals (6 goals and 7 assists), this season 41 goals (21 and 20). Or go back to the data at the beginning of the article: last year, the corresponding rate was 3.2 every 90 minutes, and now the number is almost double, to 5.7.

Vinicius is not only more involved in the attack, but much more threatening.

Benzemawho has changed his view of his young Brazilian team-mate this season, said on Tuesday in Valdebebas: “They talk about the best players in the world and Vinicius isn’t mentioned, even though he’s in the top five. He scores important goals, makes amazing plays, does everything.”.

“Vini can win the match on its own”the French player, who had the most explosive season of his career, concluded: “Vini can be more assertive, he has a very special magic in him”.

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Alexander-Arnold is very important to Liverpool

Trent has also improved in attack, for the fourth season in a row where he is the main link in Jurgen Klopp’s system: from 3.6 shots per game to 4.7.

One is a threat to the other, but oddly enough, the young Brazilian, a natural attacker, is more involved in defense than the Englishman, a defender on paper. Statistical all the matches for the last 365 days, Alexander-Arnold pressured the opponent’s attacker 8.8 times per game: very little. 94% of full-backs in Europe’s 5 biggest leagues do more than him. On the opposite side, Vinicius pressed the edge 19.4 times per game to stop the opposing striker: only 29% of the wingers did more.

Trent’s commendable offensive ability also seems to be one of Liverpool’s weaknesses, in defense, if Vinicius runs ahead. Carlo Ancelotti has shown the way for Vini: he suggests the youngster should use his pace more in space and touch the ball less, like his goal against compatriot Alisson last year.

Vinicius, during the spectacular season, is eagerly awaiting the final: “I thought about everything, what I could do and what I couldn’t do”. His meeting with Alexander-Arnold will contribute to determining the Champions League title.

Kim Ngoc

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