Winning the Champions League is one thing, but being able to defend your crown is a whole different ball game. That, in part, is one of the reasons why so many fans were forced to respect and appreciate the fact that Real Madrid won it three times in a row under Zinedine Zidane.
With Liverpool now being the current Kings of Europe, it certainly makes you question whether or not they will be able to pull off back to back titles of their own. At this moment in time it seems as if they’re more than capable of doing so, but they need a lot of things to go their way.
A tense experience
Goals from Mane, Robertson and Salah ensured that the Reds had built up a 3-0 advantage, and at that time, they were playing some delightful football – befitting of their status as European champions.
A goal from Hwang Hee-Chan before half time made the hosts a bit nervous, though, before a bizarre four minute spell saw the visitors score twice and stun Liverpool.
Salah restored their lead with just over 20 minutes remaining after a nice move, before they saw the game out after a few nervy moments.
Jurgen Klopp had the following to say.
“How do I explain that? I think it was obvious: we left the very successful path of the first 30 minutes. That was some of the best football we played so far, against how we all saw a little bit later a very well organised team with a clear idea and identity. We did everything they don’t like, on a high speed, scored the three goals, could have scored more.
Forcing the issue
“They changed the system – that’s allowed and is not really a problem usually, but tonight it was for us because we changed the approach a little bit for some reason. Some were in a controlling mood, some were in an attacking mood, other positions were too hectic. The main problem was that we tried to finish our situations off through the middle of the park; they had one midfielder less in the defensive [area] because they took a bit more risk and left a No.10 in between the lines. So they had one midfielder less and we still tried to push through the centre. We lost the balls there, they passed the ball to the No.10, he could turn at the back of Fabinho, could turn and counter-attack. That changed the momentum of the game.”
Salzburg showed the kind of attacking intent that has attracted so many fans to them this season, and the intent that leads many to believe they can still be a force in the competition.
For the time being, questions will be asked of Klopp’s side and their defensive capabilities – but this was still a big three points for them.