Real Madrid advanced to the Champions League semi-finals with a 3-1 victory over Liverpool on a surprisingly comfortable evening in Madrid.
Los Blancos defeated Jürgen Klopp’s disappointing side thanks to two goals from Vinicius Jr. and one from Marco Asensio.
The old master
While Vinicius Jr. and Marco Asensio scored the goals, it wasn’t the youngsters who impressed the most in Madrid.
No, that was left to Luka Modric, who, at the age of 35, was able to command a Champions League quarter-final in a way that few other players could.
The Croatian international was outstanding tonight, pulling every thread, gliding past Liverpool players with ease, and displaying a degree of calmness that is difficult to teach.
Those in red shirts, on the other hand, seemed overwhelmed by the occasion early on and were seldom in command throughout the 90 minutes.
This summer, Modric has been linked with a move away from Real Madrid, with rumours that the veteran might be told to seek greener pastures.
As tonight’s performance demonstrated, it would be a big mistake.
Tough night at the office
What an abysmal first 45 minutes Liverpool had, perhaps best exemplified by Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Following Gareth Southgate’s decision to keep him out of the England squad, the young defender has been making headlines. And it’s easy to see why based on the facts.
Alexander-Arnold was abysmal in this game, wasting possession, being sluggish on the ball, being slow to support attacks, and being out of place at nearly every point.
His lack of focus was a major factor in Vinicius Jnr’s first goal, as he was unable to respond as the Brazilian raced through on goal.
Marco Asensio scored an easy second just before half-time thanks to his dreadful header.
In the second half, things changed marginally, but not nearly enough for a player who was widely regarded as Gerrard’s heir only a year ago.
Trent, you’re not going to the Euros looking like this.
A midfield of two halves
In the 42nd minute, this match was probably better summarised.
Jürgen Klopp took Naby Keita off and replaced him with his Spanish colleague, despite the fact that he had started the game ahead of Thiago.
It was a harsh assessment of the Guinea international’s results, and it revealed how much the Reds manager believed his team was struggling in midfield.
And he was totally right. The Premier League champions were completely outplayed throughout the pitch, especially in the middle third.
Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, and Keita were a one-paced trident that lacked ideas and struggled to battle the Real Madrid press.
Things changed drastically in the second half as Thiago’s presence lifted everyone’s morale, and his laser-like precision passing was instrumental in a variety of attacks on the Real Madrid target.
It was a genuine two-hundred-percentage-point midfield.