An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’

‘He makes difficult things look
easy,’ was how Jürgen Klopp assessed another standout performance from
Alisson Becker earlier this year.

An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’ 1

The
manager’s words came after his goalkeeper had not only delivered
another shutout, but also provided an assist as Liverpool defeated
Manchester United 2-0 at Anfield to extend their lead at the top of the
Premier League table.

“We knew we would get a really good
goalkeeper: his character, how calm he is, helps us a lot. His
goalkeeper techniques improve and improve,” added Klopp.

Indeed,
Alisson’s form since he registered as a Red in the summer of 2018 has
seen him clinch FIFA’s Men’s Goalkeeper of the Year accolade, as well as
the inaugural Yashin Trophy, to cement his standing as one of the
finest on the planet.

But what makes him step up in those key moments? What enables him to make crucial saves and react at such speed?

Liverpool
delivered a controlled display in Salzburg to book a place in the
Champions League knockout phase in December, running out 2-0 winners.

However,
the lively hosts threatened to go into the lead, and Alisson was forced
to produce a double save to deny Hwang Hee-Chan and current Reds
teammate Takumi Minamino in the blink of an eye…

Achterberg:
“In this situation, he closed the angle, made the first block and then
reacts quickly to attack the second ball. When it drops, he is on it
with his positive approach. He attacks the ball instead of waiting for
it so he can try to push it away from the goal. Again, he is calm in his
mind and he reacts fast.

“Some reactions of a goalkeeper
are instinctive, of course. It can be a split-second decision, but the
main thing is your mind always has to be in an attacking mode, never
take it off deciding whether you can reach the ball before anyone else,
for example. If it’s a 50/50 or a 60/40, am I fast enough to get there
to win it? That’s a mindset, but also a quality he has too, because he
has the speed and reacts for it. It is a combination of everything in
this moment.”

An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’ 2

Another facet to Alisson’s game is his ability to read the play and snuff out danger from the back with quick thinking.

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His
wonderful headed clearance to prevent a Tottenham Hotspur
counter-attack in the Premier League meeting in London earlier this year
was a classic example of that.

Achterberg: “He is a
front-footed goalkeeper, so he is always thinking forward. In this
situation, he needs to make the right decisions. We are defending high
as a team and he is in the line of the pass and reads the ball into the
space. He adapts to the positioning of the ball and the team and then in
his mind, he knows he needs to be quicker than the player who is
running after it. That’s what he had to decide, but he has that
mentality and the speed to react quickly to sprint to the ball to get
there before the opponent.

“He is a goalie who has no fear –
if he does something, he sticks to his decision. In his mind, he knows
what to do and he doesn’t hesitate. That is natural goalkeeping, having
no fear, reading the game and deciding.”

Speaking of quick
thinking, Alisson certainly did that when he claimed a Premier League
assist at Anfield at the start of the year – and against Manchester
United, no less.

Collecting a wayward ball into the area in
stoppage time as Liverpool looked to protect their 1-0 lead, the ‘keeper
spotted an opportunity to send Mohamed Salah clean through – and seized
upon it by launching a kick into the direction of the No.11, who
finished at the Kop end.

An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’ 3

In
one of the most iconic scenes of the season so far, Alisson rushed from
the area to run the length of the pitch and celebrate with Salah.

Achterberg:
“If Ali receives the ball, he is always looking to counter and restart
the game quickly, in keeping with our way of playing. Mo and Ali have
had eye contact, they’re looking at each other, and Ali knows he has
made the move and then has the quality to put the ball out into his
path. When Ali cuts a corner or cross out, the first thing he is looking
at is if there is the possibility of a quick restart with a throw or a
side-volley. On this occasion, he’d practised this a couple of times in
training; a forward makes the run, he tries to find them and sometimes
it comes off.

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“Ali has the ability with the side-volley to
put the ball right into someone, he can put it where he wants because he
has that quality and consistency. Adrian is not bad with it as well, to
be honest – he has a good side-volley. It’s what you practise, you try
to get the accuracy by working on the training pitch, knowing where you
have to try to hit the ball.

“His run afterwards was very
funny. It’s something that’s spontaneous; you’re excited, you’re winning
the game and your emotions cannot be controlled sometimes.”

Liverpool
needed to dig deep to grind out a 2-1 win over Wolverhampton Wanderers
at Molineux – particularly after the hosts gained momentum when Raul
Jimenez cancelled out Jordan Henderson’s opener.

Alisson’s
intervention proved crucial as he produced top-drawer saves to thwart
Adama Traore and Jimenez in the space of three minutes.

An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’ 4

Achterberg:
“Traore’s shot was a powerful one from the angle, low from about 14
yards out. Alisson is in a good position and he is ready; in his mind,
he knows if Traore shoots he has to react. He has the calmness to get
down and use a strong hand to make the save. His positioning gives him a
good chance to make the save.

“With the Jimenez save, he
stood up well in the one-v-one on the angle. He stayed in the line of
the ball and let the attacker make the decision on this occasion. He
covers the goal really well and blocks it with his face.

“It
was 1-1 at the time and they were building a little momentum in the
game, but with a goalkeeper it is always the situation – you need to try
to keep making saves to affect the score positively for the team.”

Liverpool
continued their winning sequence with a 1-0 success at Norwich, but it
was a fixture that witnessed another piece of outstanding goalkeeping
from Alisson.

With the scoreline still tied in the first
half, Lukas Rupp broke in behind the Reds defence and found himself
one-on-one with the visiting stopper. With Teemu Pukki in support, he
elected to square the ball to his teammate for what surely would be a
tap-in… until Alisson intervened.

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Achterberg: “For this one,
he stays in line with Rupp to try to force something. He tries to pass
the ball square to Pukki and didn’t think Ali was staying balanced and
able to react. He has the power to take one step and then power off to
push the ball away before Pukki got there.

An Insight Into How Alisson ‘Makes It Look Easy’ 5

“It’s
about reading what was happening; he sees two players running towards
him, so he cannot sell himself on the first one, he has to wait until he
does something. If Rupp had taken a bad touch, he could have closed him
down, or if he passes – which he did – then he has to react and that’s
what he did. He is really calm in his mind, but also has the quick feet
and power to take off and react. Again, he is on the front foot and has
no fear.”

Liverpool’s 3-2 win over West Ham at Anfield last
month was eventful, but the Reds had overcome the setback of falling
behind to put themselves into the lead heading towards the conclusion.

However,
when Jarrod Bowen found himself bouncing into space inside the area, it
looked like the Hammers would claim a point. That was until Alisson did
what he does best.

Achterberg: “Ali goes on his intuition
in this moment; he decides on the move and what he needs to do. He’s
really calm, he tries to stay in the line of the player and the ball and
then he is really fast on the touch to close the angle down. He really
gets into the face of the ball and the player to make the block. In
goalkeeping, you have to use your head – and he did that in this
situation with the speed of movement and by attacking the situation. In
the mind, you always have to be calm and making good decisions.

“One
of his big strengths is to stay calm in the high-pressure moments and
making what look like natural, easy decisions, but they’re not easy
because you always need perfect solutions and decisions. It’s a quality
he has.”