Three things stood out in Villarreal against Liverpool: The Reds first are Bayern, then they are real champions

Villarreal tampered with the next coup and were close to the end of the first half. The Spaniards equalized the result of the first leg match with two goals, through Bolway Dia (third) and Francis Coquelin (41).

Liverpool achieved hardly anything and Villarreal produced the “perfect match” that coach Unai Emery had demanded: two shots on goal, two goals and Liverpool not a single chance to score.

But the Reds increased the tension after the break, winning the match with goals by Fabinho (62), Luiz Diaz (67) and Sadio Mane (74) as they are in the Champions League final for the third time since 2018.

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Three things stood out in the semi-final leg:

1.) Liverpool at first as bad as Bayern – then as a real champion

In the semi-final against Bayern Munich, Villarreal needed seven minutes to score the opening goal, and was much faster against Liverpool. Despite being warned about the Bayern game, the Reds made the same mistakes at the start: a lukewarm intervention and an extraordinary number of easy turns.

Like Bayern, Liverpool seemed surprised by the strength of the hosts.

“It all started the way you don’t want it to be. It wasn’t according to plan, we didn’t stay calm. The small field was on fire, they increased their momentum and took real risks by playing man-to-man,” coach Jürgen Klopp said on Amazon. Prime”.

“On the other hand, we didn’t go into the game. We opened up defensive holes, that was crazy. Coquelin just came in in the middle and managed to nod the ball. We had no rhythm,” Klopp said.

Unlike Bayern, Liverpool were at least active in pressing and thus conceded a few early balls. But the passing game in attack was poor by Liverpool standards. Klopp analyzed: “We shot the balls frankly behind the last line.”

In addition, full-backs Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson once again revealed weaknesses in the defence. Villarreal hit a few diagonal balls in the wing positions and sometimes occupied them twice. Prior to 2-0, Robertson had to choose between two Spaniards in a back-to-back duel, and thus was a long way from Capoy’s cross.

In the Premier League, FC Everton (0:2) recently opted for a similar tactic with long diagonal balls, which caused problems for the Liverpool full-back.

After the break everything changed and from Liverpool’s point of view everything improved. “In the first half we thought: ‘Let’s try it while we’re here,'” Klopp said. “Then we started kicking. We weren’t ourselves in the first half, it was us again in the second half.”

Liverpool lined up against a tired opponent, patiently waited for their chance and then fired three stinging shots in the space of 14 minutes. “The way Liverpool played after the break, only real champions are playing,” said Rio Ferdinand, television expert on BT Sports.

Amazon Prime expert Patrick Omoela particularly liked the quietness of the guests: “It was never too hectic. They put it down quietly because they know they can score at any time.”

This works especially well away from home this season. Liverpool won all six away matches on their way to the final in Paris on May 28, scoring 18 goals.

And the Reds don’t lack self-confidence anyway. And Mohamed Salah predicted in BT Sport: “We are a big team at the highest level. We can always come back after a 0-2 draw. As of today, I say we will win the Champions League this season.”

2. Joker stabs Luis Diaz

Many experts see the missing piece of the puzzle for the perfect team in the €45m winter signing. In order not to immediately burn the Colombian, his coach repeatedly gives him creative breaks – also at Villarreal.

On Tuesday, Diogo Jota got the nod and tried his hand at the center of the attack as Mane descended from the left wing. With Liverpool almost no attacking game before the break, Klopp decided to make the change in the first half: Jota, and Diaz out.

“Jota was not a problem, not even remotely,” Klopp explained. “We had eleven problems. And then you need new momentum.” Mane moved into the center of the attack, while Diaz played on the left flank as usual – and he was immediately in the match.

Diaz always made room for dribbles or promising passes and was present in the penalty area when attacks were built down the right touchline, as in his saw to make it 2-2 after a cross from Alexander-Arnold.

“We did a lot better, which made it easier for Lewis,” Klopp said. “But then he played a great game.”

38 balls, 91 percent of assists, four shots on target, one goal – Klopp earned a touch of gold by replacing Luis Diaz.

3.) Rowley does not have a Champions League semi-final level

Liverpool FC knows exactly how important good goalkeepers are in the tough times of the Champions League. In 2018, the Reds lost 3-1 to Real Madrid in the final as Loris Karius made two devastating fouls.

This time, Liverpool is taking advantage of the goalkeeper’s weakness. Jeronimo Rulli was somehow involved in all three goals received.

First things first: Fabinho’s shot to make it 2-1 was tricky, but from a relatively sharp angle and in no way positioned. Basically, the Brazilian just held out because he couldn’t find a teammate in the middle. Rowley got the ball through his legs – not a real goalkeeper’s fault, but the thing that stopped.

Rowley can’t be blamed for the second goal, Diaz gets a header from too short a distance. The ball finally rebounded from Rullis Wade into the net – a pity for the goalkeeper.

The third goal was pure slapstick. Completely unnecessarily, Rowley ran towards a deep ball on Mane and came up with the decisive move 35 meters from his own goal. Because defender Juan Foyth delved into space, Mane only had to push the ball into the empty goal.

It makes no sense to speculate whether Villarreal would qualify for the final with a better goalkeeper, but it is certain that he would have had a real chance. Rowley took the entire team out of the game.

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