Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League final and the one contest that could shape the 90 or maybe 120 minutes is Trent Alexander-Arnold versus Vinicius Jr.
Vinicius has played in fifth gear all throughout this season, scoring 17 and assisting 10 goals in 35 La Liga matches and if Liverpool cannot stop him it’s more or less curtains for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
TAA is world-class when it comes to the attacking aspects but he’s very average when defending one-v-one situations and to add to his woes, someone like Vinicius thrives on such moments(just ask Fernandinho).
Real Madrid have had a very straightforward ploy this season, pinch the ball in midfield and then put an early pass to the Brazilian out wide so that they can isolate the full-back. This plan has worked perfectly so far because, in this campaign, he has an xG of 14.60 and an xA of 9.23. These are insane numbers which will only be boosted if Trent cannot bring his A-game to Paris.
This one area will be the major cause of concern for the Liverpool boss and he needs to have a proper strategy to nullify the 21-year-old.
Vinicius Jr. vs. Trent Alexander-Arnold.
Who’s winning this battle on Saturday? 🤔 pic.twitter.com/c5TDvTmRMi
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 27, 2022
Do Liverpool have a plan to stop Vinicius Jr?
Alexander-Arnold spoke to the press on Friday and he’s dropped a slight hint as to how he and his team are planning to stop the Real Madrid winger. The England right-back has suggested that the best way to stop Vinicius might be to do it as a collective unit.
Alexander-Arnold said, as per Fotmob: “You expect to come up against the best.
“There will be battles all over the pitch; we have game plans for everyone we face. As for Vinicius, he’s an exciting player to watch, but we have a job to do as a collective and as individuals. There are individual battles, but it’s the team that wins.”
TAA obviously will need help from his teammates when Vinicius has the ball at his feet and it will possibly be one of the two central midfielders who will come to his rescue.
Either Fabinho has to pull out wide and team up with the full-back or someone like Naby Keita or Thiago will have to step up. If Thiago is fit and starts then it will probably be Henderson who will be handed this duty because the Spaniard does not have the pace to chase down the Real Madrid winger.
Will Vinicius help open up the Liverpool midfield?
If a midfielder is coming in to help Trent Alexander-Arnold then it automatically leaves room for players like Kroos and Modric to work more freely.
Modric is apt at coming out of pressure situations with the ball at his feet so he too will have to be shadowed by two players.
This is a very tricky situation for Jurgen Klopp and if he needs bodies in midfield plus he needs to add extra cover to help negate Vinicius then the best way forward is to use Sadio Mane as a false nine. Pep has used this strategy multiple times this season and it works best when a team needs to add more volume to the midfield area and take control of the game.