There were many odd tactical decisions in the defeat to Real Madrid, but there was one that reminded us of the defeat to Aston Villa earlier in the season.
We decided to hold a very high line, but then put no pressure on the opposition players when they had time and space to play a ball over the top…
It led to us conceding seven at Villa Park, but we were lucky to only let in three when up against the vision and quarterback passing of Toni Kroos and the receiving of Vinicius Jr.
It directly saw Real Madrid take a 2-0 lead in the opening 45 minutes, and although we improved in the second, the damage was largely done.
Rule No. 1:
If you don't pressure the player in possession -> defensive line must drop back. pic.twitter.com/5jBYCSCE3T
— Marius Fischer (@Gegenpressing91) April 6, 2021
Simon Brundish also published the stat that Kroos was only pressed 16% of the time, which baffles us.
He’s dangerous with little time, so with plenty, he’s going to be lethal – and he was.
Only 13 of Toni Kroos 79 pass attempts were “under pressure” (16%)
Enda Stevens was pressurised for 28% of his passes when we played Sheffield United
Some times the tactics don’t help
— SimonBrundish (@SimonBrundish) April 7, 2021
The midfielders were very poor, though. Fabinho had his worst game since returning to the anchoring role, and Gini Wijnaldum and Naby Keita were awful in possession.
Keita got hauled, but Gini was just as bad. We missed captain Jordan Henderson, but recognise he will not be fit for the second-leg.
Thiago and Fabinho should perhaps start in a double pivot, with Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, Mo Salah and Sadio Mane all ahead.