Real Madrid vs Liverpool

The Champions League returned to our screens on Tuesday evening, with some very high-profile ties.

One of the marquee clashes of this season’s quarter-final round of course pits Liverpool against Champions League experts, Real Madrid.

The pair faced off for the first time since the 2018 final on Tuesday evening, in the first of two legs.

Liverpool, of course, headed into the meeting having endured a fairly poor season to date.

But, Jurgen Klopp’s side had remained an impressive force in Europe, with Diogo Jota’s return having also seen the Reds impress domestically of late – picking up key wins over Wolves and Arsenal.

Madrid, on the other hand, were forced to face Liverpool without all of Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard and Raphael Varane. The former pair are suffering with injury issues, whilst Varane missed out due to a positive Covid-19 test.

Official Announcement: Raphaël Varane. #RealMadrid

— Real Madrid C.F. 🇬🇧🇺🇸 (@realmadriden) April 6, 2021

Woeful Reds

Despite their injury woes, Real began the clash fairly brightly, and enjoyed the better of the opening exchanges as Liverpool struggled to get a grip on the game.

The Reds looked fairly nervous in possession, whilst their midfield in particular toiled in their efforts to keep hold of the ball.

Even when Liverpool did get into Madrid’s half, they were dispossessed fairly quickly, before Zinedine Zidane’s side played some lovely intricate football to beat the visitors’ press.

Los Blancos were getting particular enjoyment down their left flank, as Ferland Mendy and Vinicius Jr. caused Trent Alexander-Arnold all sorts of problems.

As for the English outfit, they didn’t cause Madrid any real issues inside the opening 20 minutes, with a handful of floated TAA crosses the only threat the home side were forced to deal with.

Alexander-Arnold continued to struggle defensively, though, giving the ball away 23 minutes in, allowing Karin Benzema to burst forward, before Ozan Kabak did well to deny the Frenchman.

No Liverpool defender could do anything about Toni Kroos’ 50-yard pass over the top of their defence to Vinicius Jr., however, as the Brazilian outpaced Alexander-Arnold and Nat Phillips to fire the hosts into the lead:

Toni Kroos, stop that! Stop that right now! 🔥

Vinícius finishes the move off strongly and Real Madrid lead! ⚪️ pic.twitter.com/w2J9ciokiI

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2021

Liverpool’s woes then depended shortly after, as Marco Asensio added Madrid’s second 35 minutes in. Kroos again played a ball over the top, which Alexander-Arnold headed into the path of the Spaniard:

It’s gone from bad to worse for the Reds 😳

Real Madrid lead Liverpool 2-0 before half-time…

Major work to do in the second half! pic.twitter.com/YRHou8El2v

— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) April 6, 2021

This was swiftly followed by Thiago being introduced for Naby Keita just before the break, as Jurgen Klopp was left to regret his decision to start the latter this evening.

0 – Liverpool have failed to attempt a shot in the first half of a Champions League game for the first time since November 2014, which was also against Real Madrid. Blanketed.

— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) April 6, 2021

Liverpool’s season all but over

Despite having not had a shot on target during the first 45, Liverpool enjoyed an almost perfect start to the second-half.

Gini Wijnaldum played in Diogo Jota, whose deflected effort fell to Mohamed Salah to slot home.

The goal gave the visitors a huge boost, with Klopp’s men looking completely reinvigorated following the interval.

Jota then nearly set up a Liverpool second, flicking the ball up to Sadio Mane, but Mendy put in a goal-saving challenge.

Madrid, though, went down the other end to regain a two-goal advantage just minutes later, via Vinicius Jr.

Benzema found Luka Modric, who charged into the Liverpool box unchallenged to pick out the Brazilian for his second of the day.

Zidane then brought on Federico Valverde for Asensio, as the Frenchman aimed to shore things up.

Klopp, meanwhile, introduced Xherdan Shaqiri and Roberto Firmino for Jota and Kabak.

The changes, though, did very little in impacting the clash, as Madrid continued to dominate en route to a 3-1 win, the same scoreline they managed versus Liverpool in the 2018 final.

The visitors, on the other hand, were largely woeful on Tuesday, barring a 15-20 minute spell at the start of the second-half.

In turn, with a Champions League exit now very much on the cards, it is hard to argue that Liverpool’s season isn’t all but over.

The Reds sit down in 7th in the Premier League table, and even if they do manage to scrape a top-4 finish, can that really be classed as a successful campaign?

Leicester City keeping tabs on Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita

Liverpool looking at Teun Koopmeiners as potential Wijnaldum replacement

 

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