aWhen the final whistle blew at the Stade de France, Trent Alexander-Arnold was closest to the bench in Madrid and swayed sideways as the white shirts arrived, clutching an all-too-familiar rave. At that point, Alexander Arnold stopped.
For the next five minutes, amidst the smoke, the loud noise, and the crackling of static electricity in that huge cracking bowl, he stood completely still on the edge of the central circle, bending slightly as if in bodily pain. Jürgen Klopp came for a hug. A battalion of photographers gracefully passed by. When the base of the Uefa was finally established, he simply lay on the grass alone and grabbed his head.
Hey Trento. Of course, there will be a temptation to dismiss Alexander-Arnold after Real Madrid’s 1-0 win, to focus on the defensive cover error before the only goal, and that will indulge the match happily, a foul pointing and sighing over the one who has been subjected to the pen of light agony, and the gif of death And it’s still an eight-shot montage of shame.
Right at first glance. This was a game of half chances, collisions, and compact spaces – all except for that moment in the second half when I suddenly crashed. For Liverpool, this season’s story will now be one of glory but also missing out or rather seeing others fall a little off. One point loses the league and one goal loses this final. Close, but only two cigars.
However, there is another side to this equation. Madrid is exceptionally adept at that, very cruel, very surgical in the way they find weaknesses and exploit them. They have now done this with every one of the top three players in the Premier League. This thing is happening.
And secondly, Alexander-Arnold is also the way Liverpool win. It is how they got here, what this team is built for. Alexander Arnold is the project. For an hour, as so often, it looked like Liverpool could win this match.
Then suddenly it wasn’t. It was the other thing instead. You can also see it coming, and in the most painful way. Vinícius Júnior touched the ball with difficulty in the first half, 10 minutes after the end of the first half. When Real Madrid broke through the middle of the pitch, he was off and stuck on the chalk line. He held his position and held it for a long time and dared to stay out while throwing the ball to the other side.
Watching this, I am motivated to stand up, scream and point. That white number on the touchline, 40 yards from the ball, is now running, still completely untracked. This is the danger.
Through all this Alexander Arnold’s reactions were strange. Not placing it near the middle of the half that covers that hole. But his failure to look around, the sudden emptiness, as if simply refusing to acknowledge the possibility of the white man’s existence. If you can’t see it, it won’t hurt you.
Federico Valverde’s cross split into the six-yard penalty area and Alexander-Arnold finally looked, just in time to see the net kick in front of the Madrid fans.
At that moment, today he moved away from Liverpool. The opening seconds brought something of a bar brawl down the left as Liverpool pushed hard. And Alexander-Arnold was very good in the first 20 minutes, playing fearlessly, walking, watching, then rising high and pushing the match into his rooms.
He took advantage of the game’s first real opportunity, generating a nice dribble, wave and spin, making his way past Ferland Mendy and crossing Mohamed Salah to shoot him rudely. Moments later, there was another skillful and clever exchange, another Salah shot. Sadio Mane rotated and fired from the base of the post. That’s the best of Liverpool, those waves of attacks that build up and cause you a kind of mental breakdown.
And in between, Real Madrid played as a team that wanted to cool things down. Slow down the ball, rest. Lactic acid fade. This is how Real Madrid wins in a few moments. systems? We are one system. There were some early cross passes into the Vinicius area, which are yet to come. Oddly enough, Liverpool had a midfielder who was a right-back covering his right-back and he was a midfielder. But Alexander-Arnold looked solid, looked good, and seemed in control until the moment he didn’t.
Even then, he was still Liverpool’s most compelling offensive threat on a night when many parts looked less than their best. That advantage waned late this season with 63 games and endless danger.
In the end, Alexander-Arnold’s contribution to the match seemed to reflect something from Liverpool’s season. It is no secret that he is a flawed footballer and a brilliant footballer. It is not enough to say, well, that this is a compromise, that is the nature of modern defenders. Nothing about being able to cross and pass the ball like a divine being and fading across the field means you can’t see behind you either. Alexander Arnold has an angel on both shoulders.
Over time, his brilliance, the good part, his dash, and his nets are what drive this team off the right. But there will also be those moments, the minute edges, the high-wire thrusters, the lightning bolts, where the day looks like it’s about to break. Then sometimes it happens. Hopefully the pain of that moment will eventually fade with time. It is the nature of this balance, risk and reward. There will undoubtedly be more glory to come.