REAL MADRID VS LIVERPOOL: PREVIEW
Following yet another limp defeat, this time at the hands of bottom of the table Bournemouth, Liverpool travel to the Spanish capital tomorrow night with a three goal lead to overturn. Here’s the match preview.
Just a week after thrashing Manchester United 7-0, Jürgen Klopp’s men reversed back to poor form, succumbing to a woeful defeat at the Vitality Stadium. The Reds never got going, with the Cherries constantly getting in behind the high defensive line.
The warnings were not heeded when Outtara went clean through, rounded Alisson before shooting into the side netting. The winger broke free again and this time, crossed for Billing to tuck home. The Reds couldn’t muster up a response, with Mohamed Salah spurning the best opportunity.
The Egyptian fired a penalty off target midway through the second half. Considering that was the first spot kick the side has been awarded in over a year, you wonder if the manager should even bother complaining about that particular stat.
The loss saw ground lost in the top four race, with the Reds falling to sixth place, six points off fourth placed Tottenham Hotspur (but with a game in hand). With just 12 league games remaining, Klopp’s men are running out of time to go on a long winning run.
The Champions League remains the only hope of silverware this season but even that has been damaged heavily by the first leg result. Having taken a 2-0 lead after 15 minutes, Liverpool completely capitulated, losing 5-2 infront of the famous Anfield crowd.
The task tomorrow night is nigh on insurmountable. The Reds have to not only beat their bogey side, but must record a huge margin of victory to at least force extra time. Ancelotti’s men haven’t lost a game by a three goal margin all campaign.
The last time Los Blancos lost by at least a three goal margin was in the Clasico last season when Barcelona romped to a 4-0 victory at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Chelsea also handed the 14 time champions of Europe an almighty scare in the quarter finals last season.
Having lost the first leg 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, Thomas Tuchel’s side took a three goal lead at the Bernabeu, stunning the home fans into silence. Real’s powers of recovery in this competition is the stuff of legend though. They struck back through Rodrygo to force extra time before Benzema finally put the tie to bed.
The Reds have prior experience to the sort of comeback (or ‘La Remontada’ as the Spanish call it) they will require tomorrow night. When they last won this competition, Liverpool had to overturn a 3-0 first leg defeat to dump Barcelona out after a stunning 4-0 victory at Anfield.
The crucial difference is the Reds are away from home and have a woeful record on the road this season. It doesn’t help that Real have had the upper hand in this fixture over the past few years either. In the last seven meetings, Los Blancos have won six times and drawn the other.
Jürgen Klopp has faced the Spanish giants on 11 occasions in his managerial career. He’s won three, drawn twice and lost six times. Ominously, he’s never won a game at the Bernabeu. He has a poor record against Spanish teams, especially in Spain.
Safe to say tomorrow night is an uphill task. Get the first goal on the night though and who knows? Whatever the outcome, the Reds must defend better as a unit. They must have a plan to stop Vinicius. The young Brazilian has netted 5 goals in 4 appearances against Liverpool, including the winning goal in last season’s final.
He always seems to benefit from the space in behind Trent Alexander-Arnold whenever the two sides square off. If the Reds stand any chance of pulling off the impossible, the 22 year old must be well shackled.
Ramsay (meniscus), Diaz (knee), Keita (muscle) and Thiago (hip) remain out. Bajcetic (adductor) and Henderson (illness) have been ruled today, with Joe Gomez a possible inclusion in the squad having trained earlier today. Arthur Melo was fit enough to be on the bench last time out.
Losing Henderson and Bajcetic is a big blow, but on nights like this, the onus will fall on the forwards to be ruthlessly clinical infront of goal to make a contest of this tie.
For Carlo Ancelotti’s side, David Alaba is the only confirmed absentee. The Austrian is still struggling with the hamstring injury he picked up in the first leg at Anfield. Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema has been passed fit following a recent knock.
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