Real Madrid play Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League at the Alfredo De Stefano in Madrid. This will be their first meeting since the 2018 Champions League final in Cardiff. The match ended in a 3-1 win for Real courtesy of Gareth Bale’s overhead kick and Lloris Karius’ mistakes in goal for Liverpool. However, a lot has changed since then for both sides as Liverpool went on to win the trophy in 2019 and the Premier League the following season in 2020.
Real Madrid are in rebuilding phase as both Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, the main men then have left the club now. Injury problems have hindered both these two European sided this season and the side which tackles the issue most on the given day will run out winners out of this Quarter final stage. There will be a plethora of talent on show for both the legs despite those injuries and we take a keen look at 3 of the most important players of the first leg.
Confirmed Lineups –
Real Madrid starting XI: Courtois, Vazquez, Militao, Nacho, Mendy, Casemiro, Kroos, Modric, Asensio, Vinicius, Benzema.
Liverpool starting XI: Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson, Fabinho, Keita, Wijnaldum, Mané, Salah, Jota.
3 Key players to watch out for in the first leg –
1. Mohammed Salah
Mohammed Salah missed most of the Champions league final for Liverpool in 2018 after getting injured by a Sergio Ramos challenge. He has been one of the standouts for Liverpool over the past 3 seasons and many of the Reds’ hopes will be pinged on his performance in the match. He would himself look for revenge for the 2018 final loss and the injury and look to cause damage to Madrid this time around.
Salah is the Premier League’s second highest goal scorer this season with 18 goals. His pace against Real Madrid’s left-back Ferland Mendy will be one of the battles to watch out for and will have a great impact on the outcome of the match.
2. Karim Benzema
Karim Benzema has solely taken on the mantle of scoring goals after the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo at Real Madrid. benzema will have fond memories of playing against the English side as he scored in the 2018 Champions League final. Madrid rely heavily on his scoring prowess and his big match experience will be counted on by Zidane.
Karim Benzema is Real Madrid’s leading scorer this season with 18 goals in La Liga and has scored 5 goals in 6 matches in the Champions league. Benzema will be buoyed by the fact that Liverpool have a weakened defence in Ozan kabak and Nat Phillips will provide him with scoring chances sooner or later.
3. Diogo Jota
The 3rd player who should be watched out for most is Liverpool’s Diogo Jota. The 24 year old Portuguese forward has hit the ground running for Liverpool since his arrival from Wolverhampton Wanderers this summer. He is in terrific form and has scored 6 goals in the last 3 matches.
Jota scored a brace in Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Arsenal after coming on as a 2nd half substitute. The forward has been rewarded with a spot in the starting lineup in the match against Madrid by Jurgen Klopp. Real Madrid also have troubles at the back and the Portuguese will look for one slip up from the likes of Nacho and Militao in the absence of Sergio Ramos and Varane.