Toni Kroos has detailed Real Madrid’s approach to their 3-1 win over Liverpool, with the plan to “attack the defenders” paying off with three easy goals scored at home.
Ahead of their trip to Madrid, there was clearly confidence within the Liverpool squad that they could take a result back to Anfield, but they were left only clinging to an away goal.
Kroos was the mastermind as Real exploited a shaky Reds side in the first half, with his two long balls over the top leading to goals for Vinicius Jr and Marco Asensio.
Nat Phillips and Trent Alexander-Arnold struggled in particular, while Ozan Kabak’s efforts to mop up behind Phillips highlighted the inexperience throughout the back line, and perhaps even the awe of playing against a striker of the calibre of Karim Benzema.
Speaking to Sony Sports after the game, Kroos gave an insight into Zinedine Zidane’s preparations for the first leg, with the plan being to “attack the defenders” to avoid a supply line to Liverpool’s strikers.
“A lot of things went well in the first half. I think we came out very motivated and concentrated in our game plan,” he said.
“The idea was to attack their defenders so they cannot move up quickly” Real Madrid midfield Maestro Toni Kroos breaks down the tactical plan to beat Liverpool@AndyMitten @ToniKroos @realmadriden @LFC #RMALIV | #UCL pic.twitter.com/bkQHsRHT8K
— Sony Sports (@SonySportsIndia) April 7, 2021
“We tried to attack them very early because we knew that they also had to change some players, because they have some injured players at the back, so we thought maybe that was going to be a good chance to win the ball very early.
“That went well and, of course, when we had the ball our idea was to keep the ball, keep the possession and play forward.
“All of this went well, especially when we lost the ball, we got the ball back very fast. I think this was one key for this great first half.
He added: “It’s normal that you try to figure out where there are some points you can attack them.
“But it’s not only the point that they had to change some defenders, but also that they [could not pass] too easily to their front.
“All of us know what quality they have up front, so one of the ideas was of course to attack the defenders so they can’t go easily to the front where they have most of their quality.”
Kroos believes that there was “no question” that Real were deserved winners, saying “it was more than possible to score four or five,” but the German is still wary of Liverpool’s ability to turn the tie around.
“There are always two legs, you know that things can happen and so we are happy with today’s game, but we know what can happen at this level,” he said.
“We have to be very focused, very concentrated, we have to defend well there, also try to attack, to go through to the semi-final.”
But while the famous comeback against Barcelona will be referenced in the buildup to the second leg, Kroos has acknowledged the impact of an empty Anfield – though he stressed that it was the same for Real.
“I think it’s more than a year playing without fans, and I always said the team that adapts well, or the best, is going to win in the end,” he continued.
“Of course, for Liverpool it’s different to play with no fans, but [it is] for us also.
“We’re even not playing in our stadium. We’re in a different stadium without fans!
“But we’ve adapted well I think now, we’ve had some good games here and we’re going to try the same next week in Liverpool.”