Liverpool travels to Madrid for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 match on Wednesday night, where they will play Real Madrid, needing to produce some Bernabeu magic to advance to the next stage of the competition.
Even when Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez sent the Anfield crowd into raptures, Carlo Ancelotti remained stone-faced, and his team’s early mistakes only served to highlight how incredible their seven-goal victory was.
With a pass right to Vinicius Junior’s leg, Alisson Becker rivalled Thibaut Courtois for the night’s worst mistake. In the last seconds of the first half, the Brazilian youngster scored twice, before Eder Militao’s header and Karim Benzema’s brace capped off a legendary Merseyside thrashing.
The defending La Liga champions lost their next three domestic matches after appearing to use all of their match-winning vigour at Anfield.
Vinicius, Militao, and Marco Asensio all scored as Los Blancos continued to trail Barcelona by nine points, but a 300th Champions League encounter now steals the show amid their top-flight woes with Benzema locked in bubble wrap.
Real has won the first leg of a Champions League match away from home 27 times in the past, and they have advanced from 26 of those matches, losing only once to Erik ten Hag’s 2018–19 Ajax squad. However, after Manchester United’s humiliation at Anfield, Real will hope not to follow the Dutchman’s lead here.
The best Champions League outcome ever would undoubtedly be a timely replication of their 7-0 thrashing of Manchester United at the Bernabeu, but a week is a long time in football, as demonstrated by Liverpool’s lacklustre performance in their shocking loss to Bournemouth on Saturday afternoon.
Liverpool was given a rare, gilt-edged opportunity to tie the score from 12 yards – their first penalty in the Premier League since April 2022 – but Salah sent his kick into the stands after failing to pay attention to the warning signs on the break and handing Philip Billing the opening goal.
Liverpool are no strangers when it comes to stunning European comebacks – coming from 3-0 down to defeat Barcelona 4-3 on aggregate in 2018-19 – but the lack of the Anfield faithful is far from ideal against Madrid.
In addition, Klopp’s team only has two victories to brag about from their eight road games in 2023, and they have lost seven straight games to Madrid since cruising to victory in the 2008-09 edition’s quarterfinals.
WHERE AND WHEN?
Venue: Santiago Bernabeu.
Date: Wednesday, March 15.
Time: 20:00 GMT.
Ancelotti will be pleased to have Ferland Mendy back in the team but the Italian is unlikely to risk his only natural left-back available with David Alaba still yet to return.
Having missed out on the league game against Espanyol, Karim Benzema is back and ready to start against Klopp’s men on Wednesday night.
In relation to Liverpool, Klopp has a number of absentees with Luis Diaz, Thiago Alcantara, Calvin Ramsay, and Joe Gomez all out for the trip to the Bernabeu.
Following thigh surgery, Arthur was on the bench against Bournemouth but a knock has also left the unfortunate Naby Keita questionable for this game, and any anticipated midfield changes would see Jordan Henderson act as the first port of call nonetheless.
POSSIBLE STARTING LINEUPS
Real Madrid predicted XI vs Liverpool: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Tchoumeni, Camavinga; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius.
Liverpool predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson; Salah, Jota, Nunez; Gakpo.
Matches between Madrid and Liverpool have never lacked goals and this particular one would be no exception. The writer is predicting more than three goals in the game.