Following back to back league victories over Everton and Newcastle United, Liverpool look ready to take on their bogey side Real Madrid in the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. Here’s a preview of the game.

The Reds have wrestled their way into a bit of form at just the right moment it seems. The 3-0 defeat to Wolves was a line in the sand for Jürgen Klopp and his troops. Consecutive 2-0 victories, first in the Merseyside derby and then away at Newcastle have signalled a turnaround.

A potential top four finish has gone from wishful thinking to a very realistic probability if the standards set in the last two games can be maintained and improved upon. A few key players have returned from injury and handed everyone, from the fans to the playing body, a real boost.

The Reds are scoring again and crucially, keeping the opposition out. How many times have we seen the side concede the first goal in a match this campaign? All these facets will be required tomorrow night when the reigning champions of Europe come to town.

Winning the derby was particularly sweet but Everton carried little to no threat in open play and are battling relegation for a reason. Becoming the first side to beat Newcastle at the St. James Park (and still being the only side to beat the Magpies to date) was impressive but this challenge is several steps up on the rank of difficulty.

The Spanish giants have proven something of an insurmountable hurdle for Jürgen Klopp’s side. Who can forget the final in Kiev when the Reds actually started without fear and pinned Los Blancos back? That was until Sergio Ramos, the ultimate pantomime villain, took out Mohamed Salah.

Liverpool lost not only their best player but their belief. Fight as they did, they just couldn’t make up for two glaring errors by goalkeeper Loris Karius as Real lifted the trophy. The Reds returned to lift ‘Ol Big Ears’ the following season and right the wrong of Kiev.

These two giants were drawn against each other in the quarter finals stage of the 2020/21 campaign. Vinicius netted a brace in a 3-1 first leg win and hasn’t looked back since. The Brazilian came back to haunt the Reds again as he netted the only goal in last season’s final.

In a game Liverpool dominated, Vinicius’ second half tap in at the back post led Carlo Ancelotti’s side to their 14th Champions League trophy. Thibaut Courtois thwarted the Reds all the way through as Jürgen Klopp lost the showpiece final for a third time in his career.

Tomorrow night doesn’t feel as much a revenge mission as it does an opportunity to slay personal demons. Real Madrid have proven a nut too tough to crack for this side. For whatever reason, Los Galacticos have had the upper hand in recent meetings.

Going back to Brendan Rodgers’ time at the helm, Liverpool have failed to win any of the last six encounters against Real, losing five and drawing the other. It’s a record that must be put to bed tomorrow night.

Ancelotti’s men come into this fixture with just one defeat in their last ten. They’ve won eight in that run, and despite falling behind Barcelona in the La Liga race, lifted the Club World Cup barely two weeks ago.

There will be several interesting subplots on the pitch in terms of key individual battles. None more so than the matchup between Trent Alexander-Arnold and Vinicius Junior.

The fleet footed winger is in peak form coming into this clash. He’s registered 24 goal contributions (16 goals, 8 assists) in 34 appearances this term and will carry the threat for the Spanish outfit. Trent will have to be on high alert.

In some ways, it was good preparation facing Allan Saint-Maximin at the weekend. Trent will require support from his right sided centre back and midfielder if he’s to keep the electric Vini under wraps. It will be interesting to see how the Brazilian defends Trent going the other way.

It promises to be an enthralling encounter, and you’d expect Anfield to be at its vociferous best. Real are rightly favourites, but the underdog tag is something Jürgen Klopp and his side wear well. This should be a cracking tie come what may.

Team News

For Liverpool, Konaté (hamstring), Thiago (hip), Luis Diaz (knee) and Calvin Ramsay (meniscus) remain out. Darwin Nunez will undergo a late fitness check after coming off against Newcastle with a shoulder injury on Saturday.

For Real, Ferland Mendy (hamstring), Toni Kroos (gastrointestinal discomfort), Aurelien Tchouameni (unspecified) have been ruled out. Karim Benzema is however fit again to lead the line after missing the 2-0 victory over Osasuna on Saturday.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s