Top Goalscorers (UCL)
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema - 5
Liverpool: Mohamed Salah - 5
Real Madrid: Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Eden Hazard, Federico Valverde
Liverpool: Joe Gomez, Virgil Van Dijk, Divock Origi, Joel Matip, Jordan Henderson
Real Madrid and Liverpool have had some intense affairs throughout the years in the Champions League, meeting six times throughout the competition’s history. Madrid have been winners in their three most recent encounters, including their controversial 3-1 victory in the 2017/18 final when Sergio Ramos wrestled Mohamed Salah to ground in the first half.
The Reds haven’t won against Madrid 2008/09 campaign when Liverpool earned a 5-0 aggregate win against Los Blancos in the Round of 16. Liverpool would ultimately fall to Chelsea in the following round that season in a 12-goal thriller over two legs.
Key injuries defensively will dictate what happens in this meeting, and rightfully so when you consider the magnitude of players missing for both teams at the back. Liverpool have dealt with center back troubles all season, losing their leaders Virgil Van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Meanwhile, Real will be without both captain Sergio Ramos and defensive partner Raphael Varane in Madrid’s most important fixture of the season to this point.
Liverpool have appeared to steady the ship slightly over recent weeks, winning three straight matches in all competitions and not allowing a goal against several top-level clubs like RB Leipzig, Wolverhampton Wanderers and Arsenal. They’ll go as far as their talented front three will take them.
The beauty of having guys like Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino is that the cohesion between that group is immense and any one of them could strike at a given point in a match. Not to mention, Jurgen Klopp now has Diogo Jota back at his disposal after missing a lengthy period due to injury.
It’s challenging to imagine Real having a lot of success against Liverpool without their talisman Ramos or someone like Valverde in the midfield to pull the creative strings, but Los Blancos are still a very deep squad and boast a threatening attacking crew as well with Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio. Madrid are also unbeaten in their last 11 matches across all competitions, so it certainly won’t be a cake walk for Liverpool.
Zinedine Zidane has his work cut out for his side, and will likely need to mitigate the damage in Leg 1 so that Real will have an opportunity for a comeback when the two sides meet again next week.
Prediction: 2-2 Draw