The Class of 2018/19 is a short series in which, ahead of the new season starting on Friday, The Anfield Talk contributors review the 2018/19 season’s of Liverpool’s squad.
First up is @jaisra02, reviewing Alisson Becker’s season…
Since the departure of Pepe Reina in 2014, Liverpool have been crying out for a goalkeeper who would transform their defence into that of a world class calibre amongst Europeans elite. In July 2018, the Reds splashed €62.5m (£56m) on AS Roma shot-stopper Alisson Becker, the Brazilian signing on a six-year deal.
Since his arrival at the club, Alisson has had a substantial effect, keeping 21 Premier League clean-sheets, whilst also proving his worth in the Champions League over the course of 2018/19. Internationally with Brazil, Alisson also guided the South Americans to their first Copa America since 2007 after they beat Peru 3-1 at the Maracana Stadium. In this article, I will be taking a look at why Liverpool spent wisely on the keeper and what the future holds for the man between the sticks.
Replacing Loris Karius as the Reds’ main keeper, Alisson kept 4 clean sheets in his first 4 completive Liverpool fixtures before finally conceding against Leicester – and although at fault for the goal, Alisson’s error did not cost the Reds any points. He claimed his territory in the net, pulling off a crucial save at the tail-end of the fixture against Brighton at Anfield, in which the Reds puled away with a slim 1-0 victory.
He hasn’t provided jaw dropping moments with just his saves, but his technical ability on the ball has also got most fans talking about his ‘modern day goalkeeper ora’, taking calculated risks against the likes of Brighton and Bournemouth. His quick thinking has always being ringing in the praises from many pundits, evident in the Reds’ 2-0 victory over Fulham in November; Alisson quickly releasing the ball to Trent, who found Salah who duly complied with a neat finish beyond Rico in the Fulham net.
Despite this calm and composed demeanour that our golden boy pulls off, he has had a few errors from his time at Anfield. Early on in the season away at Leicester his Cruyff turn was not pulled off, allowing Iheanacho to capitalise and score the first goal that the Reds conceded this season. At Anfield, he was also at fault for Manchester United pulling level through Jesse Lingard, dropping a low cross-cum shot to the feet of the England international. Although, being at a new cub and new surroundings will lead to some errors, and it is fair to say that he has attuned for these mistakes on several occasions.
With Virgil Van Dijk, Premier League and PFA Player of the Year a pivotal component in the Reds title push, Alisson had a reliable source of defensive cover in front of him through the campaign but that doesn’t mean that the Brazilian hasn’t provided some incredible moments in the Reds’ net both defensively and offensively. His brilliant save from Ben Mee in the dying moments of Liverpool’s trip to Burnley in December with the scoreline at 2-1, only for the Reds to extend their advantage through Shaqiri after quick thinking from Alisson in goal to start the counter attack.
His concentration throughout the game is perplexing, even so that the Reds are in possession for the majority of the match and it takes a world class goalkeeper to keep up their application of the game throughout the 90 minutes.
Alisson, however, did shed some light on that hefty price tag in Liverpool’s last group game against Napoli in the Champions League, where the Reds would need to win by 2 goals clear if they conceded or by a single goal if they kept a clean sheet.
The Reds were taking a 1-0 lead into added time at the end of the match and needed to hold on to progress into the knockout stages of the Champions League, but it looked like they would be held to a devastating draw when Arkadiusz Milik had a free shot at goal from six yards out in the 91st minute. Alisson somehow made an iconic save to deny the Poland international and it acted as a springboard which eventually saw Liverpool crowned as the Champions League winners some six months later.
The Champions League Final: Alisson didn’t have much to do as the game dragged on and was not tested at all in the first half with the scoreline at 1-0 to Liverpool after Salah converted a penalty in the first minute when Moussa Sissoko handled the ball in the area. The second half didn’t present Alisson with any real opportunities to make any saves until a late Spurs onslaught.
With 11 minutes to play and his team leading 1-0 against Tottenham Hotspur, Alisson Becker, the Southern Brazilian made three saves in a minute. He made another from a Christian Eriksen free-kick five minutes later before substitute Divock Origi sealed the win with Liverpool’s second. Alisson’s save after in the final moments from Son Heung-min ensured he became the first goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in a Champions League final since his compatriot Julio Cesar in 2010 – the last final in Madrid. The stops were notable rather than spectacular. Little was as Liverpool lifted a sixth European Cup with a 2-0 victory in a stifled, sapped, soporific encounter.
What does the future hold?
After winning 3 golden gloves in all competitions this season (Premier League, Champions League and Copa America) and prior to their game against Peru in the Copa America Final, Alisson had kept 10 clean sheets in a row. After his successes this season, we could be seeing Alisson go for the Ballon D’Or if he manages to keep his consistency up, only conceding 22 goals in 38 Premier League games last season. For all Reds fans, we can see Alisson being a Red for a very long time and I for one can see him being a success for several years to come, already a fan favourite amongst most, if not all, Liverpool fans!