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Champions League – Liverpool overwhelmed Villarreal

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Champions League – The result is a lie and Liverpool has one foot in the Final of the tournament. There could have been many more goals. And the English side’s 2-0 win over Villarreal seems to have fallen short of what was on display. Klopp leads the best team in the world.

By Facundo Di Bona (@facudibona).

The question was not how. But when. So slim was Villarreal’s margin for error against Liverpool that it was only a matter of time before they found themselves trailing.

Because at Anfield Road, Villarreal could barely keep the ball for a couple of seconds per move. Against a Klopp team that executed stifling pressure throughout the match.

The Cinderella of these Champions League Semifinals held on for a full half. But, after the break, the wall did not hold the cracks and ended up falling down.

Villarreal will be left with the bad feeling that the 1-0 lead 8 minutes into the second half was a fluke. Henderson sent in a cross that deflected off Estupiñán. And it made Rulli’s hand ball useless. It was a goal against the Ecuadorian. But it was a consequence of all the effort Liverpool had made.

With too much difference in individual -and collective- hierarchy, Villarreal tried to emulate what Atlético Madrid had done against Manchester City. They piled a lot of people at the back to diminish the goal-scoring power of their opponents. And so, they could go into the second leg alive.

The first half worked out well for them. Because except for very isolated plays and the English dominance did not translate into clear chances. Just a half turn by Mané. And a mid-range shot by Thiago Alcántara that hit a corner.

Villarreal could not withstand the pressure

Although to achieve this, Villarreal decidedly surrendered the attack. With two well marked lines of four, Lo Celso was a right midfielder dedicated to closing down his flank. And he was almost never able to get hold of the ball.

It was clear that the original plan was for him to close in attack and play as a link player. His habitat is to be an offensive midfielder. But the rival pressure prevented him from doing so.

Liverpool’s demands and perfection are so high that -as soon as Villarreal disconnected from the game- he was hurt. Two minutes after the goal against, and still dizzy, came the 2-0. An assist from Salah, including a pass and a finish from Mané.

Explosive combination for Liverpool. The Africans -perhaps two of the best in the history of the continent- were too much for Villarreal. The Spanish team is more effort and sacrifice than quality. Klopp’s side has those three things together.

While it could have been three or four goals, Liverpool were content with the two-goal lead. Although there are 90 minutes left, the series would seem to be all but over.

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