Real Madrid host Liverpool at Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano on Tuesday night in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. Los Blancos have won their last three meetings with The Reds, including winning 3-1 in the 2018 Champions League final. Zinedine Zidane’s team are unbeaten in 11 matches but face a Klopp side excelling away from Anfield.
Real Madrid Form
Since a 2-1 home defeat to Levante at the end of January, Real Madrid have gone 11 matches unbeaten with nine wins and two draws. They reached this stage of the Champions League after a 4-1 aggregate win against Atalanta, winning 1-0 in Bergamo before a 3-1 home victory.
After very late equalisers to draw 1-1 at home to Real Sociedad and 1-1 away at Atletico Madrid, Real have won three on the bounce in La Liga. Their last match saw a 2-0 home victory against Eibar as Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema were on target.
Real Madrid Team News
The big news for Madrid is the injury absence of veteran centre back Sergio Ramos, who was injured in a post-match session on Spain duty. With that in mind, Zidane rested Raphael Varane for the win against Eibar. Should the French coach stick to his 3-5-2 formation of many recent matches, then Nacho and Eder Militao will play alongside Varane.
Toni Kroos was only used for 30 minutes over the weekend and will return alongside Casemiro and Luka Modric. Either Asensio or Vinicius Junior would partner Benzema if a front pairing is indeed selected. Dani Carvajal remains injured at right back but winger Eden Hazard and midfielder Federico Valverde could be fit enough to be on the bench.
Real Madrid Motivation
Madrid will play for the win but have been a bit more pragmatic in recent matches, using a back three or having three midfielders sit deep to free up the front three.
A 0-0 draw would not be a terrible result but a score draw or defeat would be a disaster so Zidane may be more cagey than you’d expect from a Real Madrid coach especially against the pace of Salah, Mane and Jota. Madrid are in the thick of three-horse La Liga title race but the Champions League always holds full attention and greater priority.
Liverpool come into this match in good away form and with much more confidence. Though they have lost six consecutive matches at Anfield, they are excelling away from their home venue. Their last five matches on their travels have seen five wins and no goals conceded. They beat RB Leipzig twice in Budapest (one counted as a home leg) as well as winning 2-0 at Sheffield United, 1-0 at Wolves and 3-0 at Arsenal after scoring three times in 18 minutes in the second half.
Liverpool Team News
The big question for Jurgen Klopp is whether he leaves out Roberto Firmino and starts Diogo Jota, who netted twice as a substitute against Arsenal. Should the Portuguese start, he could lead the line or play from the right with the pace of Mohamed Salah through the middle.
Gini Wijnaldum was used sparingly from the bench against Arsenal and will replace James Milner in midfield. The backline should continue to see Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips with Fabinho in midfield alongside Thiago Alcantara.
Liverpool will come into this match with full focus and motivation. A score draw would be only a decent result considering that Liverpool play the second leg at Anfield, a disadvantage considering their current struggles on Merseyside.
Klopp’s side are capable of winning the match and are likely to set up to win, even though they may settle for a draw in the second half if under pressure. A top four finish is a big focus in the Premier League but the Champions League will hold full focus as a means of saving a disappointing season thus far.
Real Madrid are 11 matches unbeaten in all competitions (9 wins, 2 draws)
Los Blancos have won 5 of their last 6 home matches
Madrid have conceded 10 goals in their last 6 home CL matches (one clean sheet)
Liverpool have won their last 5 matches to zero away from Anfield
Liverpool have lost just 2 of their last 13 away PL matches
Liverpool have kept 5 consecutive clean sheets away from Anfield
Liverpool have won 5 of their last 7 away CL matches
Madrid are in a good run of performances and results and will have confidence coming into this match despite the big loss of Sergio Ramos. Liverpool are looking confident and back to their old selves when away from the deafening silence of Anfield. They have every chance of going to Madrid and winning this match.