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Immediate Reaction: Liverpool 0 - 1 Real Madrid (2022 Champions League Final)

A historic Courtois performance and Real Madrid’s defense and counterattacks earn the 14th Champions League for Los Blancos.

Liverpool FC v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League Final 2021/22 Photo by Charlotte Wilson/Offside/Offside via Getty Images

Despite being outshot 24 to 4 by Liverpool, a tremendous defense + counterattack performance from Real Madrid saw them win 1-0, including a historic performance from Courtois with nine saves throughout the entire game.

Ancelotti used the lineup expected for this game, with a 4-3-3 lineup that featured all the usual suspects and Fede Valverde in a more defensive right wing role.

Liverpool dominated territory and shots very clearly during the first half, outshooting Los Blancos by ten shots to one. They pressed in their usual well-coordinated 4-3-3, and prevented Real from completing any long possessions or successfully building from the back.

Meanwhile, Real could not break down Liverpool’s possession game at all. The meek attempts at pressing were easily overcome by Liverpool’s center backs, who could pass to Thiago with ease. Thiago could then find the forwards—Díaz, Mané, Salah—with tense line-breaking passes that could through Real’s open pressing lines.

However, Real still had a few situations where they could make it past Liverpool’s high line, with Valverde and Vinicius going behind Liverpool’s fullbacks. Once such situation led to Real’s clearest chance of the half towards the end: a pass to Benzema led to a mix-up between Konaté and Alisson that led to a goal that was overruled by VAR.

During the beginning of the second half, the pace of the game slowed down but Liverpool continued to dominate and produce shots. However, Mendy, Carvajal, Militão, and Casemiro continued to keep danger away from the box.

In the 58th minute, all of Real’s suffering finally gave way to the big attack moment: a great buildup sequence between Modrić and Carvajal led to an excellent Fede run into the final third. Whether Fede wanted to make a pass or a shot, only he knows, but the important thing is that the ball made it past all Liverpool defenders and into Vinicius’ feet to score.

The half-hour that followed saw more Liverpool attacks, including major chances from Salah and Jota that were brilliantly stopped by Courtois. However, Real Madrid had arguably their best performance of the season defending the box, clearing most of the danger that came into the box. Real Madrid could have scored a second goal in several situations, including a major counterattack from Ceballos, and a set piece where Casemiro missed the final pass.

All in all, Real Madrid’s defensive performance, Courtois’ shot-stopping, and their counterattacking game have led to the team’s 14th Champions League trophy. Stay tuned for the podcast, player ratings and other post-match coverage.