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Champions League: Liverpool vs Real Madrid preview

Liverpool and Real Madrid play the first leg of their last-16 Champions League game at Anfield on Tuesday in a repeat of last year’s Champions League final.

Champions League: Liverpool vs Real Madrid preview

On Tuesday, Liverpool hosts Real Madrid in the first leg of the last-16 UEFA Champions League knockout rounds on Tuesday evening at Anfield in a rematch of last year’s Champions League final, which Real Madrid won.

Liverpool placed second in Group A behind Napoli to set up the game with Real Madrid, who beat out Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk, and RB Leipzig for first place in Group F.

Liverpool looking for boost in morale

Liverpool had a rough start to the year, but have recently made a little comeback with two impressive Premier League wins over Everton and Newcastle United. They will be looking to keep that momentum going against Real Madrid on Tuesday night if they want to make it through the quarterfinals.

“We need to play a super game,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp. “We need to play two super games, to be honest, to get through. But I have no problem with that because if you don’t play your best, you don’t have a chance....”

“Real Madrid doesn’t have to play their best, and they still have a chance,” Klopp laughed. “And that’s the difference and that’s pretty special, but I can’t wait.”

Liverpool has suffered just one Champions League last-16 exit in the last five years, when they lost to Atlético Madrid in 2019. They haven’t lost a game at Anfield in seven games, but...they are winless in six games against Real Madrid, their longest run against an opponent in the Champions League. Real Madrid is undefeated in their last two games at Anfield and in both games, they did not concede a goal.

“I think as a team, we are ready,” said Liverpool’s Cody Gakpo. “We want to perform in this game, we want to win, especially at home. We want to go through to the next round, so we have to be ready.”

Liverpool injuries

Liverpool is dealing with several injuries and will be without Calivin Ramsay, Luis Diaz, Arthur Melo, Ibrahima Konaté, and Thiago Alcantara. Darwin Nuñez also injured his shoulder during the game against Newcastle, but Klopp said he is still a possibility against Real Madrid.

Real Madrid coming in strong

Real Madrid are coming into the game against Liverpool strong after winning four of their last five games across all competitions and should be feeling pretty confident considering their recent record against Liverpool. However, Real Madrid has only won one of their last seven Champions League away games against English sides, beating Chelsea in April 2022. Of course, the winless streak Liverpool has against Real Madrid is good for Los Blancos, but Liverpool’s recent success could be cause for concern.

Champions League: Liverpool vs Real Madrid preview

“I’ve got good memories of the [2022 Champions League] final,” said Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti. “I think it was an even game. I share that opinion with Klopp. I think they had more possession, but we were solid at the back.”

“But it’s a different type of game,” said Ancelotti. “This is not a one-off. It’s two legs. We’re really focused on this one, first and foremost, but we know there are going to be two games. We need to perform well in 180 minutes, not just 90.

Real Madrid injuries

Real Madrid’s star striker Karim Benzema left the game against Osasuna due to muscular fatigue, but Ancelotti says he expects him to be well enough to play against Liverpool. However, they will definitely be without Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos, who are both currently sick. Ferland Mendy and backup striker Mariano Diaz are also out with injuries

Liverpool vs Real Madrid kickoff

The Champions League Round-of-16 first leg between Liverpool and Real Madrid kicks off at 3 p.m. ET on Tuesday, February 21. It should be a close game between the two and the result may depend on how many players they can get healthy enough to play.

“It’s the Champions League and it’s one of the biggest games in the world,” said Klopp. “And with the recent history of one of us in a final and being quite successful in that competition, difficult to play against, grinding results out, all these kinds of’ll be a top football game.”


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