Casemiro impressed but Mohamed Salah disappointed as Real Madrid progressed to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals after a 0-0 draw with Liverpool.
Liverpool were hot off the gates and conjured up the better of the chances on the night, only for some fine goalkeeping by Thibaut Courtois as well as lackadaisical finishing being their undoing. The Real Madrid no. 1 was at hand to deny Mohamed Salah early on before a brilliant stop kept James Milner at bay from around 25 yards out.
Real Madrid carried a threat on the counter and on one of their rare moves they nearly punished Liverpool, only for Karim Benzema’s deflected shot striking the woodwork. The Reds, though, were not stopping their push for the opening goal, which never came as the visitors soaked the pressure to play out a goalless draw.
The result means Real Madrid are through to the UEFA Champions League semi-finals following their 3-1 win in the first leg last week, with Chelsea their opponents in the next round after they got past FC Porto. Liverpool, on the other hand, now have their Champions League hopes for next season lying in tatters and The Hard Tackle now runs the rule over both the sets of players following an engrossing affair.
Did not have a great deal to do, but did make a fine save. Completed each of the passes when linking up with the defenders in front of him.
Trent Alexander-Arnold: 8/10
Much-improved after a disastrous showing last time out, Alexander-Arnold played a game-high 6 key passes. Did lose the ball 34 times due to his outlook of sending ball after ball into the Real Madrid box, but he was the single biggest reason why Liverpool carried any sort of threat in the final third.
Trent Alexander-Arnold for Liverpool vs. Real Madrid:
◉ Most touches (104)
◉ Most penalty area entries (26)
◉ Most crosses (17)
◉= Most ball recoveries (10)
◉ Most chances created (6)
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 14, 2021
Nathaniel Phillips: 8/10
A game that once again signalled Phillips’s growing influence for Liverpool. Solid at the back, he did well. Stepped into midfield with confidence, which helped Liverpool push Real Madrid further back into their own half. Imperious in the air as well, he won 7 aerial duels while also completing 4 interceptions.
Ozan Kabak: 7/10
There were one or two nervy moments at the back, but Kabak did well to hand Liverpool the control in the game and progressed the ball well from the defensive third. Made one big block as well.
Andrew Robertson: 7/10
Robertson did well initially, combing smartly with Sadio Mane to attack a makeshift Real Madrid right-back. Camped himself in the opposition half and did not have a lot of defending to do, but his crosses were not always accurate enough to cause Los Blancos‘ centre-backs any worry.
Georginio Wijnaldum: 6/10
Wijnaldum made a bright start to the match, and did well to keep things simple and let the front-men express themselves. However, as Real Madrid grew into the game, the Dutchman’s impact waned significantly.
Not the best of displays once again versus former club Real Madrid, Fabinho was overshadowed by opposite number Casemiro. The Brazilian international, though, did well off the ball, but it was his output on it that needed to be better.
James Milner: 8/10
A solid display by Milner, who worked hard to push Liverpool forward and was even denied by a fabulous save by Thibaut Courtois. Successfully won balls higher up the pitch and was efficient in his display in the middle of the park.
Mohamed Salah: 5/10
When Mo Salah misses yet another chance pic.twitter.com/ylzyLIo0vr
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) April 14, 2021
The Player to Watch in our preview, but Salah failed to deliver the goods. Denied quite superbly by Courtois early on, Salah would have liked to grow into the game, but he slowly faded and that ultimately meant Liverpool could not complete the comeback.
Roberto Firmino: 5/10
Saw a lot of the ball and aimed a fair few shots at goal, but his conversion was not on point on the night, with Firmino managing just one effort on target. Ought to have set up Alexander-Arnold with a simple pass, but squandered that as well. A rare blip, considering his recent form.
Sadio Mane: 5/10
Mane would have been licking his lips at the prospect of battling Federico Valverde, but he ended up being sub-par once again, failing to put the Real Madrid man under pressure. Completed just 68 percent of his passes while losing possession a staggering 23 times. In need of inspiration.
Thiago Alcantara: 6/10
On for Milner, Thiago was efficient in recycling possession, misplacing just five passes all game. Did not have to put in the hard yards defensively, but did well to push Liverpool forward.
Diogo Jota: 5/10
On for Kabak, Jota made little impact despite spending nearly 30 minutes on the pitch, with his pass completion rate being a paltry 67 percent.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain: N/A
Sent on in the 82nd minute to make a rare appearance for Liverpool, Oxlade-Chamberlain did not manage to make an impact.
Xherdan Shaqiri: N/A
A late introduction, Shaqiri could not make an impact in the dying stages of the game.
Thibaut Courtois: 8/10
While the defence did well to thwart Liverpool for large parts of the game, Courtois also played his part in earning his clean sheet, making a couple of big saves to deny Salah and Milner. Passing rate was a bit paltry, but glove-work more than made up for it.
Federico Valverde: 8/10
Federico Valverde vs. Liverpool
78% Pass accuracy
4/7 Accurate long passes
2 Chances created
10/16 Duels won
Out of position and under the microscope, Valverde was absolutely fantastic. pic.twitter.com/GGMAGzqI08
— The Tactical Times (@Tactical_Times) April 14, 2021
A little slow off the blocks, Valverde soon found his feet before his class shone through. Kept Mane at bay for large parts of the game, while making a staggering 8 interceptions in addition to 3 tackles, 2 clearances and winning 7 duels. What an asset for Real Madrid.
Has taken on the mantle of being the leader at the back for Real Madrid well in the last few games and on Wednesday, Nacho impressed again with his ability to organise the backline. Made a game-high 11 clearances while winning 7 duels in a solid performance.
Eder Militao: 8/10
The absence of Raphael Varane and Sergio Ramos continues to be a boon for Militao, who was once again impressive at the heart of the Real Madrid defence against Liverpool. Won 4 duels while making 7 clearances, 3 blocks and 2 tackles. Colossal.
Ferland Mendy: 7/10
Tasked with keeping Salah quiet, Mendy made a bit of a slow start to the game before growing at a rapid pace. Did well to keep his marker away from goal and made as many as 6 clearances. Did not charge forward too much, though.
Luka Modric: 6/10
With Liverpool paying great attention to negating Real Madrid’s creative duo, Modric was not as impactful as he usually is and lost the ball a staggering 19 times. The Croat, though, worked hard off the ball to aid the visitors in the defensive phase.
The clear standout from the two sides, Casemiro was a rock in the middle of the park, playing a key role as Real Madrid shut out Liverpool efficiently in the second half. Won 10 duels and completed 5 tackles while also playing in a key pass. Such an important player for Zinedine Zidane.
Casemiro for Real Madrid vs. Liverpool:
100% aerial duels won
13 ball recoveries (most)
12 duels won (most)
9 accurate long balls
5 tackles (most)
2 fouls won (=most)
1 chance created
So good at what he does. 💪 pic.twitter.com/GFadgZ0OJT
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) April 14, 2021
Toni Kroos: 7/10
Even on days when Kroos is not as influential as he can be, he manages to impress. This time around, he had a lot more defensive work than he is accustomed to, but he did manage to win 4 tackles while winning 5 duels.
Marco Asensio: 5/10
Not the best of displays from Asensio, who hardly managed to make a factor of himself in the final third apart from the 1 key pass he played. Lost the ball a bit too many times, but did help Valverde out defensively on occasions.
Karim Benzema: 7/10
He might not have a goal or an assist to show for his efforts on the night, but Benzema very nearly did find the back of the net, only to be denied by the woodwork. Helped his side out defensively and put in the hard yards all game long.
Vinicius Jr.: 6/10
Vinicius Jr. was not as influential as he was in the first leg last week, but he still impressively completed each of his 24 attempted passes. Did not really manage to carve out the openings, but he did carry a threat on the counter.
Alvaro Odriozola: 6/10
Introduced in place of Toni Kroos, Odriozola got a few minutes to impress Zidane, which he might have considering he won 3 tackles while completing each of his 6 attempted passes and even completing a cross that found its way to Benzema. Could be handed a start this weekend.
Rodrygo Goes: 6/10
On for Vinicius Jr., Rodrygo was a bundle of energy in the final stages of the game, but did not really make a great deal of impact.
A late introduction in place of Asensio, Isco did not play enough to warrant a rating.