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Three tactical decisions that can affect the result of the Champions League final

Written by: Shivam Tiwari

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The clash of styles between Klopp and Zidane also presents the two managers with some potentially decisive tactical choices.

The world will watch the two greatest Champions League sides locking horns in the showdown for their quests of being the European Champions. While Real Madrid will be looking forward to winning their third consecutive title under Zidane, 13th overall, Liverpool would want to bury the dark memories of the loss to Sevilla in Basel. Real Madrid are going to face a stiff challenge from a side that aims to win their 6th European title and first in a decade.

Most of the eyes will be on the two fetish forwards, Ronaldo and Salah, the battle will be dependent on what the two footballing brains decide to do. Zinedine Zidane and Jurgen Klopp will have to be at their wittiest best if their teams have to have a claim for the top honour. While the former delivers most of the times, the latter has done well against this Los Blancos side and will take the heart from it.

Khel Now takes a look at the three tactical decisions that will decide the outcome of the Champions League final.

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1) The impact of Bale and the puzzle of his inclusion in the final

It is a situation similar to the previous season where Real Madrid faced Juventus in the final and the position of Bale in the starting lineup was not resolute. Bale was coming on from an injury and had very little to show for his chances of being into the starting lineup against Juventus.

This season Bale has been in sensational form, scoring 16 times and assisting twice in the league. Also, he has created 37 chances and made 35 key passes. The offensive numbers are nearly double of what they were last time in similar game time and all of this while having defensive duties more than what he ever had since joining the Los Blancos. 

Zidane has recently been playing Bale in a system which happens to be a 4-3-3 while on the ball, with Bale on the right wing, and 4-4-2 while defending, asking Bale to drop back into the midfield to help Carvajal and the midfielders. It is something he did to great effect in the El Classico and in the second leg of the semifinal against Bayern Munich.

With Carvajal struggling defensively this season and Mane being in top form, Bale should start for the men in white.

2) How Firmino manages to break the defensive chain of Brazilian teammate Casemiro?

In modern-day football, defensive midfield is a position that has revitalised the most and for Real Madrid, Casemiro has been the one handling that in the best possible way. There have been no questions to be asked whether Casemiro is the best defensive midfielder of the season bettering statistics of both Kante and Busquets.

Roberto Firmino has also been a revelation as a striker. He has been selfless while playing against the front of the defensive line, attracting centre-backs towards him and creating space for the other two striking partners, Salah and Mane. While Salah and Mane get all the appreciation, Firmino has been happy to slip through the cracks.

For Liverpool to do well, Roberto will have to do well while playing in the hole position and he will be up against the former FC Porto man who's been high on confidence after having a wonderful season.


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3) Marcelo, whether to leave space or not?

Mo Salah loves making quick runs and leaves no stones unturned to get the most out of those runs. The Egyptian has been directly involved in 14 goals in Champions League this season. He has scored 10 times and assisted four. He will go toe-to-toe with the Brazilian left-back Marcelo in the final.

Marcelo is no shy of going forward and leaves a lot of space behind him for Sergio Ramos to cover. The Brazilian left-back is a vital cog in the offensive armours of the Los Blancos and has scored in every tie of the knockout stages this season for Real Madrid. But all of this has come at a cost - the freedom of him leaving spaces behind him and playing nearly as a winger for the 90 minutes of the game.

But at times in Champions League, this tendency of Marcelo to leave acres of spaces behind has left Real Madrid suffering at the back. Against Juventus, the space that Marcelo left allowed the Old Lady's wingers to exploit it and provide crosses for Mandzukic to head home. Even against Bayern, Madrid were made to pay for it twice in the form of goals from Kimmich in both the legs of the tie. What was surprising after both the situations though, was that Marcelo was asked to sit back and defend more.

With Salah being in the form of his life and Marcelo leaving blanks on the left side of the pitch, Real might have to pay for it with their desire of winning the Champions League for the third consecutive season.

Published: Wed May 23, 2018 07:19 PM IST

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