Hi, and welcome back to football made simple.
There are certain matches that are remembered by all football fans, regardless of generation,
nation or club alliance. And the 2005 champions league final is one of those. While we all
know it was a great match, what were the tactics behind the madness from Carlo Ancelotti and
Rafa Benitez.. How did Milan leap into a three nil lead only to be clawed back. And how was
the unsung Vladimir Smicer, the key to this come back? In this video we take a look.
And if you’re here, youre probably a huge football fan and as such would enjoy the onefootball
app. It’s a great app giving the latest, news stats and match updates, and will keep
you up to date with all the match reschedulement. And you can get it for free through the link
in the description below. A quick reminder of the formations.
AC milan lined up in their famous 4-4-2 in a team where pretty much every player, is
a legend of the game. Liverpool in response were in a 4-4-1-1 with
harry kewell being just in behind milan barros. Now let’s take a look at the first half
tactics, starting with what milan looked to do on the ball. The first thing to note is
that Milan, scored withing the first minute, through a paolo maldini volley from a set
piece, so that affected how both teams set up from then. From their own goal kicks deep,
AC milan didn’t look to play out to the centrebacks, instead looking to go long down
the centre and win the knock down. This was an effective plan as they had two forwards
with decent height up top. In addition to that, Liverpool played with a double pivot,
whereas, milan would afford to bring their midfielders more narrow to put them in a good
position to win this second ball, which they did on several occasions.
But when they had the ball on the ground from deep the defence was comfortable on the ball.
In maldini and cafu Milan had 2 fullbacks who were capable going forwards. Liverpool
wanted to defend in a deep block, often not applying pressure. but eventually milan’s
deep play would draw the forwards, and as a result the rest of the Liverpool team onto
them opening up space deeper, and the threat of shevenko and Crespo in behind was and ever
present. Initially Liverpool did not want to push high however, with milan being patient
and having the lead they were drawn out. Baros and Kewell often occupied the centre, with
a man always looking out for Pirlo. this is where milan’s 4 vs 2 advantage here
played to their advantage. They could afford to drop a man deep to the ball, usually Pirlo,
and the far side midfielder formed a double pivot IMAGE. With the winger marking the fullback,
AC’s wide midfielder, either gattuso or seerdoff depending on side could drift behind
fullback and winger to receive the wall pass. When the fullback the confronts him, Shevchenko
and Crespo were constant in running behind the fullbacks and could be found. At the same
time, Kaka was one of the best 10s in the world, almost always prowling high and between
the lines. So at times Gerrard and Alonso were compelled to stay deeper, leaving milan
and Pirlo acres of space in his favourite region. We see an example of this here, as
gerrard initially looks to press, but realising the man would have space in behind drops back,
leaving Pirlo in acres of room. However, at times, Liverpool looked to counter
this through Garcia who is comfortable playing in central regions. Often he could tuck in
to try and even up the numbers allowing their pivots to remain deeper. But this would leave
a massive gap on the left for maldini to move into, and AC milan took advantage of this.
With seerdoff then running beyond him. As the half wore on, Milan took to building
with a back 3 using a 1 up 1 down philosophy to maintain their solidity as they already
had the lead. But a lot of milan’s chances would results
from these deep areas. Milan’s midfieldr would use short passing in this region to
draw gerrard and Alonso, neither of whon are traditional DMs, whilst kaka would drop between
them. He would often receive the ball and with a burst of pace was between the lines.
Shevenko and Crespo would then make split runs looking to run into the region vacated
by the fullbacks, Traore specifically and kaka would feed then for the shot. They had
plenty of nearly moments this way, but their first 2 goals are an example of this.
On the topic of Traore he is not strong defensively and this may be why benitez played another
LB ahead of him. However when milan where high up the pitch, he was often high, being
drawn to cafu or gattuso. As a result Pirlo, Kaka, or Seerdoff would often look for lofted
passes into this region for the run. As the half and the match wore on he begun to overcompensate,
dropping beyond the offside line and playing attackers on.
When Liverpool build up they did so in their 442, but the fullbacks were often quite conservative.
Initially Alonso would stay deep with gerrard pushing ahead of him, but with Alonso being
isolated they soon stayed alongside each other in a traditional double pivot. Milan’s mifield
were hard working and pressed high, limiting their time on the ball and forcing them lone
into the channels. Even with Garcia tucking in they were seill out numbered here, as milan
could drop into a 4-3-1-2 not allowing any forward progression. As a result the midfield
could be drawn to the ball, leaving baros isolated. When they did get wide, rather than
attack the byline, they looked to cross from deep areas rather tham vcross from the byline
and limited success. So what what changed in the second half?
Well, Dieter Hamman came on for Finnan, and this allowed Riise to a more natural LWB role,
pushed gerrard Higher and Smitzter was the most tactically vital in the false RWB role.
Now, with three men at the back, they could now keep the ball much more comrtablly than
the first half. Carragher had to show match intelligence, as Benitez often had him move
to the right back position whem Smitzer pushed higher. But Smitzer was important as he changed
the dynamic of the midfield. Where they were outnumbered earlier in the match, Hamann was
the extra man and this combined Smitzer who would push in as a cm when they had the ball
meant that at times they now had the advantage if Garcia joined in too. Their possesseion
rose as they were now able to keep the ball more easily. This also meant that Baros was
no longer isolated, as Garcia and Gerrard could now confidently push forwards knowing
there were ment behind them. With Smitzer playing in midfield, Riise was their only
provision of width on the left hand side. But he was never isolated as a midfielder
could run wide when he had the ball. We see the importance of the tactical chance
in the Liverpool goals. For the first, As in the first half, Riise crosses from deep,
not the byline, and gerrard now freed of his defensive role make the extra man as both
CBs are occupied and scored. For the second again Riise is high on the
left and Alonso and hamaan attract milan’s midfielders so when the ball comed to him
on this inside midfield position he has the time to take a shot and scores.
For the third, with Garcia alongside baros now rather than outwide, he draws the attention
of Stam and drags him out of position. This opens the alleyway for the pass and gerrard
again freed from defending makes the run to win the penalty.
Milan’s main attacking ploys came when deep into liverpool’s half where they could take
advantage of the dynamic between carragheer and Smitzer when they were switching positions.
Initially seerdoff and then soon serginho would make runs into these regions to drag
Carragher away from CB meaning Traore would shift across and they could take advantage.
They would then aim to cross, and hyppia and Traore were a leaky pairing and milan had
2 big chances in this manner. Liverpool survived these scares, forcing it
to a penalty shoot out. Yerzy Dudek who had been shaky most of the game, but that behind
him, coming up big in the shoot out to ensure that Liverpool completed one of the most memorable
comebacks of all time, the miracle o instanbul. Hope ou enjoyed this look back on a classic
game. What are your memories of that match and where did each manager go right and wrong?
Drop it down in the comments below, and check out the onefootball app as well. but that’s
all for today and remember, keep it simple.