By Richard Martin
KIEV (Reuters) – Real Madrid’s Marcelo has played a defining role in their run to Champions League final and their previous three European Cup triumphs but the left back’s defensive weaknesses could make his side vulnerable to Liverpool’s fierce attack on Saturday.
The Brazilian has scored in every knockout round of this year’s competition, volleying in the third goal in the 3-1 win over Paris St Germain which proved a turning point in Madrid’s season. He also scored in the 3-0 victory at Juventus in the quarter-final first leg.
He showed the downside to his cavalier approach to the game in the semi-final tie against Bayern Munich, drifting off and allowing Joshua Kimmich to score down his left flank and put Bayern 1-0 up in both legs.
But he displayed his best attributes as an attacker in the opposing half, hitting a crisp volley to equalise in the 2-1 win in Munich and providing a superb arching cross for Karim Benzema to head in the equaliser in the 2-2 draw in the second leg.
Marcelo says his favourite player growing up was Brazil and Madrid great Roberto Carlos, who was still at the club when he moved to the Spanish capital aged 18 in January 2007.
“I took inspiration from him on the pitch. Roberto Carlos would go up and down that left wing like a beast. Whether you love me or you hate me, you know what you’re getting when I’m out there. I love to attack,” Marcelo told website The Players Tribune.
“And then later on, at the back? If we got a problem, we’ll fix it. We’ll figure it out. But first, we attack,” added the 30-year-old, who scored Madrid’s third goal in their 4-1 win over Atletico Madrid in the 2014 final.
It is Marcelo’s gung-ho approach which was exposed against Bayern which could give Liverpool some hope in Kiev in a final where the Spaniards are favourites to lift a third consecutive Champions League, their fourth in five seasons.
Liverpool coach Juergen Klopp, however, said it is not that simple.
“It seems obvious: ‘Marcelo, what an offensive player, but… he can’t defend’. They won the Champions League twice, they are again in the final. They are experienced from head to toe. There is no weakness,” Klopp told the Daily Mirror.
Real coach Zinedine Zidane, meanwhile, has never seen a problem with his player’s attacking mindset.
“I don’t know if he is the best, but it’s a joy to watch him play,” the French coach said.
“He puts on a spectacle, and he also gives an example to the rest of the team.”
(Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge)