Saturday, July 21, 2018

Could Sadio Mane be the key to Liverpool’s European success?

David Nugent in Editorial, UEFA Champions League 3 May 2018

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Liverpool have made it through to the Champions League final after a 7-6 aggregate victory over Italian side Roma in the semi-finals. A 5-2 win in the first leg was followed by a 4-2 defeat at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday night.

The key to the victory was the Reds fearsome front three of Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane. The latter opened the scoring in Rome after also scoring at Anfield and in the previous rounds.

Mane has scored 19 goals and produced eight assists in all competitions, with nine of those goals coming in the Champions League.

Has majorly developed his game at Liverpool

Sadio Mane is just one in a long line of players that Liverpool have harvested from Southampton. The Senegalese international forward always looked a dangerous player for the Saints.

However, he looked extremely unpredictable and at times, he seemed like a loose cannon. Ironically, I remember him scoring against the Reds for Southampton before being dismissed.

Mane has since matured as a person and a player at Liverpool. The 26-year-old seems less temperament and more balanced since moving to Merseyside. Developing the mental side of his game has definitely improved him as a player.

Stepped up when needed

Mane’s game is based on pace, power and energy. The 26-year-old always seems to be full of energy. While his teammate’s flag towards the end of the game, the former RB Leipzig star is still running around like a man possessed, despite his substitution in last night’s encounter.

Egyptian star Mohamed Salah has no doubt been the star for the Reds this season. However, in the last few games, the PFA Player of the Year has looked jaded and tired. Maybe he is suffering from a tad of burn-out considering the season he has had.

When Liverpool needed an out ball, Mane was it. Firmino also had a slightly quiet night, so Mane stepping up when needed was crucial for the Reds progression. Jurgen Klopp’s tactics are all about hitting teams on the counter with those exciting front three.

If the likes of Salah and Firmino are tired, then the game plan does not work as well. However, Mane was outstanding. Much like Firmino, the Senegalese forward has been in the shadow of Salah this season, despite good performances.

A return of nine goals in his eight Champions League outings shows that the winger has been in excellent form of late. He has no doubt played a key role in the Reds stellar European campaign to date.

Final could be any score

Sadio Mane and co will face Real Madrid in the Champions League final on May 26th in Kiev. The Reds and Real Madrid have the same strengths and weaknesses as both teams can score goals for fun, but neither can defend. These two factors mean that the final should be highly entertaining for the neutrals, but nerve-racking for the two sets of supporters.

Liverpool are currently slight underdogs to win the Champions League at 11/10. However, in reality, the game could go either way. It will all depend on which team can score the most goals and keep the back door shut.

Real Madrid are the more experienced in the competition, having now made the Champions League final in four of the last five seasons. Liverpool are the more explosive team, though, so the final should be a fascinating clash.

However, Sadio Mane could well prove to be a vital figure against Real Madrid. He has the pace, power and skill to cause problems for that notoriously brittle Los Blancos defence. While all the attention will be on Mohamed Salah, Mane could well just prove to be the matchwinner for the Reds.

Could Sadio Mane be the key to Liverpool’s European success?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Nugent


David is a freelance football writer with nearly a decade of experience writing about the beautiful game. The experienced writer has written for over a dozen websites and also an international soccer magazine offline.
Arguably his best work has come as an editorial writer for Soccernews, sharing his good, bad and ugly opinions on the world’s favourite sport. During David’s writing career he has written editorials, betting previews, match previews, banter, news and opinion pieces.

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