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UCL round of 16: Real Madrid vs Liverpool preview

UEFA Champions League: Liverpool eyeing historical comeback in round of 16 visit to Real Madrid

March 15, 2023 By Ali M.
The Merseyside giants head to Santiago Bernabeu needing to overturn the 5-2 first-leg defeat. However, no team in history has been able to pull this off.

The UEFA Champions League round of 16 will wrap up on Wednesday, with the final two games set to take place on March 15. While Napoli will host Eintracht Frankfurt in an exciting showdown, all eyes will be on Real Madrid vs Liverpool as these two European giants lock horns at the Santiago Bernabeu following their historic first-leg encounter.

Los Blancos are the favorites to go through to the quarterfinals and for obvious reasons. The Spanish giants have failed to win three out of their last four matches, losing to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey at the beginning of this month while drawing with Real Betis and Atletico Madrid. However, given the scoreline, it would take a never-before-seen collapse from Ancelotti's men for them to get eliminated.

Benzema and Co. visited Anfield in late February for the 1st leg of this match-up and came away with an unforgettable result. Despite going 2-0 down extremely early, the visitors managed to pull off a remarkable comeback victory, triumphing 5-2 on Merseyside.

Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah got on the scoresheet inside the first 15 minutes of the game but Vinicius Jr. grabbed a brace in the first half, one courtesy of an Alisson blunder, to pull Los Merengues back level.

The second half of that clash was one-way traffic, with Eder Militao and Karim Benzema (2x) scoring to hand Liverpool their worst defeat in Europe at their iconic Anfield stadium. It should also be noted that while Luka Modric didn't get on the scoresheet, the Croatian icon garnered plaudits as well after delivering yet another age-defying masterclass display at the heart of Real Madrid's midfield.

However, as mentioned earlier, Los Blancos' form has tumbled following that first-leg encounter. The reigning champions of Europe have won only once since that Anfield victory, beating Espanyol 3-1 in their most recent outing. Additionally, there are some question marks over the fitness of Benzema, which could also raise a few alarms.

As for Liverpool, the question on everyone's mind is whether the Premier League giants can pull off another remarkable comeback. It wasn't long ago when a Jurgen Klopp side needed to overturn a three-goal deficit against a Spanish giant, having infamously beaten Barcelona 4-0 after losing 3-0 to the Blaugrana in the first leg of the 2018/19 semifinals.

However, it should be noted that the aforementioned second-leg comeback took place at Anfield, not on the road. In fact, while teams have overcome a three or four-goal deficit in the second leg of a UEFA Champions League knockout match before, this has never been pulled off when the return leg took place away from home.

As a result, Salah and Co. will need to shatter records if they are to make this season's quarterfinals. While the Reds are capable of tearing any team apart, their inconsistency this season has left fans unsure of what to expect from their club.

Nearly two weeks ago, Klopp's men hosted an in-form Manchester United side in the Premier League and thrashed the Red Devils 7-0, thus handing their bitter rivals their worst defeat in the league's history. That result saw Liverpool move within three points of fourth place. However, a week later, they visited relegation-battling Bournemouth and suffered a shocking 1-0 loss to the Cherries.

Salah missed a penalty in that defeat but it was the lackluster display from the Merseyside giants that left supporters scratching their heads. The visitors have won three out of their last six games but it will be interesting to see which Liverpool side turns up at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Team news

Real Madrid: Karim Benzema has returned to full training and is thus likely to start on Wednesday — whether Ancelotti will want to risk the forward is another question. David Alaba, who injured his thigh in the first leg, remains sidelined but Ferland Mendy has returned and could feature in this tie, which could free Eduardo Camavinga to return to a midfield role.

Liverpool: Luis Diaz, Thiago Alcantara, and Calvin Ramsay are all out for this tie but Joe Gomez has recovered from injury. However, the Englishman is unlikely to start after his poor display in the first leg, with Klopp likely to opt for Konate alongside Van Dijk. Another huge concern for the Reds is the absence of Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic, with the midfield duo suffering from an illness and an adductor issue respectively.

Key stats

  • Only four English teams have beaten Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in the UEFA Champions League and Liverpool are one of them.

  • However, Los Blancos have triumphed in six of their last seven encounters with the Merseyside giants.

  • The Spanish heavyweights have only failed to progress once in their last 27 UEFA knockout stage matches after winning the first leg away from home.

  • Klopp's men have shockingly lost 10 times in 19 away matches across all competitions this season.

Broadcast listings


Match details, result and original broadcast info

Real Madrid 1 - 0 Liverpool

March 15, 2023 4:00pmEstadio Santiago Bernabéu (Madrid)

This match has ended. Below are the original Live broadcast details for this match.

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