Real Madrid v Liverpool - The CL Preview (5-2 from 1st leg)
My supporting naivety led me to predict a 3-1 home win in the first leg. The early stages had me nodding at my footballing wisdom, until Real Madrid found out just how bad the Reds can be. All teams can have moments of desire and periods of good fortune, but class will often prevail. The visitors were a level apart when they woke up, thereby embarking on a rampage of Anfield away goals.
With the second leg just around the corner, I literally have no idea which team Jürgen Klopp is likely to pick, or how the game will unfold. This will probably become a mundane game, where both teams glide through the paces. Madrid are all but through, whilst the Reds are once again in a state of shock. Those hoping for ‘one of those nights’ have next to no chance, as realistically, there’s only one side capable of winning this tie.
The current Champions League winning outfit come into this game without Ferland Mendy, and David Alaba. They enter this game on the back of a good win, beating Espanyol 3-1 at home. The match prior saw them draw 0-0 away to Real Betis, after a 0-1 home loss to Barca, in the first leg of their Copa del Rey tie.
In terms of a starting line-up, Thibaut Courtois, will start in goal. A back four of Antonio Rüdiger, Éder Militão, Dani Carvajal and Eduardo Camavinga, should remain, with the French midfielder continuing to deputise at left back. In midfield, Luka Modric should be joined by Aurélien Tchouaméni and Toni Kroos. Federico Valverde played in attack at the weekend, so will probably maintain his place there. Up front will see a late fitness test on Karim Benzema, with Vini Jr. and Rodrygo vying for starting roles. Carlo Ancelotti will surely not want to risk too many changes, with a raft of substitutions coming throughout the game.
Liverpool come into this game on the back of their horrible 1-0 loss to Bournemouth. The 7-0 destruction of Manchester United is now a thing of the past, with the Reds’ inconsistent season continuing to frustrate the fan base.
On the injury front, Jürgen Klopp is still without Calvin Ramsay, and Thiago Alcantara. There could be a return for Luis Diaz, with some changes surely forthcoming, especially after the lacklustre display from the weekend.
Alisson Becker will start in goal, with Virgil likely set to start alongside Ibrahima Konaté. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander Arnold could both drop out for this one, with Kostas and James Milner the possible replacements. The midfield should see the captain, Jordan Henderson, recalled alongside Fabinho and Stefan Bajčetić, in order to add as much physicality as possible to their struggling middle ground. Up front will probably see Mohamed Salah, Darwin, and Roberto Firmino starting, with Diaz coming on later in the game.
With such a huge deficit to overcome, it is very hard to see anything but another loss for Liverpool. With the need to start fast perhaps creating opening for Real, it would be surprising to see the reds keep a clean sheet. As the fight to qualify for this season’s top four drifts away, it could be that Wednesday night will see this season exit confirmed.
Player to watch – Luis Diaz
Real Madrid 2 – 2 Liverpool