Liverpool vs Real Madrid: Visitors likely to have too much nous for Reds

Jurgen Klopp’s men struggled in the first leg and the in-form Spaniards can finish the job off at Anfield on Wednesday night.

When: Wednesday, April 14, 20:00 BST

How to watch: BT Sport 2

Follow Liverpool v Real Madrid via our live score centre

Best bets

Vinicius Junior to score anytime at 16/5 (Sky Bet)

Karim Benzema to score first and Real Madrid to win 2-1 at 66/1 (Sky Bet)

In hindsight, it seems really quite strange that Real Madrid were considered underdogs for the first leg in Spain.

The 13-time winners tend to come alive in the knockout phase of this tournament and they'd gone into that home tie in a strong run of form.

The talk in Spain beforehand had been what a defining part of the season this was for Los Blancos. With the two quarter-final ties against Liverpool either side of a crunch El Clasico against Barcelona, their campaign would continue on merrily or be torn apart.

Two thirds through and they're passing it with flying colours.

Against Barca, Zinedine Zidane's men went 2-0 up inside the first 36 minutes, just as they had done against Liverpool, and held off a second-half fightback from their Catalan rivals to win 2-1.

That represented a sixth straight win in all competitions and since early February they've won 11 and drawn the other two of their 13 matches.

In short, Real are peaking at the perfect time.

Last three meetings:

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool (April 6, 2021)

The scoreline was a repeat of their 2018 Champions League final meeting - and plenty of the same names were on show - although this time there were no horrific goalkeeping blunders from the Reds. That said, Alisson didn't cover himself in glory for Real's third and Liverpool were sloppy throughout.

This was a deserved win for the hosts. Vinicius Junior scored an excellent opener after chesting down Toni Kroos' superb long pass and firing across Alisson after 27 before Trent Alexander-Arnold's misguided header allowed Marco Asensio to net from close range nine minutes later.

Mo Salah, who else, prodded in a vital away goal six minutes into the second half before Vinicius's first-time shot squirmed under Alisson after 65.

Real were easily worth their two-goal advantage and, in some senses, Liverpool got away with it; the scoreline could have been much worse.

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool (May 26, 2018)

The 2018 Champions League final won't be forgotten quickly.

Salah was in sensational form heading to Kiev but lasted just 30 minutes after Ramos' dark arts did for him.

Still 0-0 after 51 minutes, the second half became a nightmare for Reds goalkeeper Loris Karius as his throw out was diverted back into the net by Karim Benzema before he let a Gareth Bale hit-and-hope squirm through his fingers late on to seal Liverpool's fate.

Sadio Mane had prodded in an equaliser after 55 minutes but Bale had restored Real's lead with a worldie overhead kick which Karius could do nothing about.

Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool (November 4, 2014)

A game that played a part in Brendan Rodgers' eventual downfall as he severely narked Liverpool's established stars by sending out a heavily weakened team.

For the record: Mignolet, Kolo Toure, Manquillo, Moreno, Skrtel, Lallana, Lucas, Allen, Can, Borini, Markovic.

That line-up smacked of damage limitation and lack of ambition and even though Liverpool only lost 1-0 to a 27th-minute Benzema goal there were wider ramifications.

It's not every day you get to play in the Bernabeu and bringing on Steven GerrardRaheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho late on did little to appease their frustration.

Head-to-head

Liverpool wins: 3

Draws: 0

Real Madrid wins: 4

Liverpool scored: 8

Real Madrid scored: 10

Reds will miss Anfield electricity

After a disastrous run, Liverpool are winning games again - even at Anfield!

Okay, the latter part of the statement only became applicable a few days ago after the 2-1 win over Aston Villa. But that victory made it four wins in five games and last season's title beast is showing some signs of awakening as the run-in looms.

Klopp's side were certainly creating more chances than they had been previously during that revenge win over Villa - a team that had thumped them 7-2 earlier in the season - but it took an injury-time winner to get them over the line.

The positive spin is that Liverpool reminded us that they can still go behind and come back to claim victory - a trait shown in abundance last season.

The negative is that their finishing was still poor and it needed a piece of Trent brilliance to sneak the three points.

It's early December and 11 games ago since the Merseysiders last won a game at Anfield by more than a single goal and that's the task in front of them on Wednesday night after the 3-1 loss in Spain.

Of course, they famously came back from 3-0 down to beat Barca 4-0 in the 2019 semi-finals but so much has changed since. That was in front of a packed, eyeballs out, frenzied Anfield. They won't have the home roar to drive them on this time.

Liverpool's last five results:

Liverpool 2-0 RB Leipzig (Salah, Mane)

Wolves 0-1 Liverpool (Jota)

Arsenal 0-3 Liverpool (Jota 2, Salah)

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool (Salah)

Liverpool 2-1 Aston Villa (Salah, Alexander-Arnold)

Scoreline prediction: Liverpool 1-2 Real Madrid

Liverpool were fairly abject in the first leg but perhaps there was good reason given that the champions have been largely excellent on the road in recent months.

The 'good reason' is that Real Madrid are in full flow again and are past masters of two-legged soccer. Unfortunately, Klopp's men seem to have run into them at exactly the wrong time.

Had this tie been played earlier in the campaign, maybe the Spaniards were there for the taking. But not now.

While some teams - Arsenal a prime example - have hardly laid a glove on Liverpool's makeshift centre-back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips, Real Madrid exposed them.

And I expect this is where the collective absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip adds up to one thing - the end of the road.

Liverpool are odds-on with most bookies but they don't deserve to be based on one last-gasp home win over Villa. Overall their Anfield form has been atrocious.

The draw - which would absolutely suit Real - is a decent bet at 3/1 but I think Madrid can claim victory on the night as well as booking their spot in the last four.

Goalscorer bets

I'm going to have a couple of punts on Madrid's main two attacking threats.

As a stand-alone bet, Vinicius Junior has to be worth a go at 16/5 to score anytime. He caused Liverpool all sorts of problems in the first meeting, scoring twice.

Secondly, I'll try for a huge payout by going for the not-too-hard-to-envisage scenario of Karim Benzema scoring the first goal in a Real Madrid 2-1 win. It pays a massive 66/1 with Sky Bet.

He's got a great record against the Reds and his opener in El Classico was the Frenchman's 10th goal in his last nine games.

Perhaps Liverpool can produce some magic - they're 16/5 with Betfair to qualify if you think so - but the smart money says Real hold the aces and will do the professional job that gets them into the semis.

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