Liverpool vs Real Madrid
| Wednesday, April 14th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST /3PM EST
In a busy stretch of continuously season-defining games, Liverpool take on their season-definingest challenge yet, attempting to overturn a first leg deficit against Spanish opposition at Anfield. Caveats aside, that’s not the most outrageous idea we’ve ever heard.
Real Madrid are no pushovers, however, and after their domestic season looked all but wrapped as recently as February, an el Clásico win over Barcelona at the weekend sees Zinedine Zidane’s men just a point behind local rivals Atlético in first place.
It has come at a price, though, and adding to the injuries of Sergio Ramos, Dani Carvajal and Raphaël Varane, fullback Lucas Vázquez limped off the pitch with a cruciate ligament injury on Saturday, leaving los Blancos without three of their four starting defenders, creating an opening for a hungry Reds attack to potentially exploit.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-2-3-1)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Phillips, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago; Firmino, Mané, Jota; Salah
Not that Liverpool are without their own injury struggles in the backline, a fact brutally exposed in the reverse fixture, as a shortcomings in both communication and athletic attributes combined to deliver two of the three goals the Spaniards scored last week.
There are no news on that front, as Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip and Jordan Henderson all remain unavailable for the foreseeable future, and Ozan Kabak will partner Nat Phillips at the heart of the defense. Trent Alexander-Arnold allegedly has Something to Prove after having been left out of the England squad, and will hope to make amends for his catastrophic error at the Stadio Alfredo di Stéfano.
The only remaining question is whether chasing a two-goal deficit will provide Jürgen Klopp with sufficient impetus to give us another taste of his Fab Four from the start, or if one of the quartet will find themselves on the bench. A front six of Fabinho, Thiago, Roberto Firmono, Diogo Jota, Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah should give the Reds the greatest opportunity to score the goals required, so one hopes the time is finally ripe for that kind of risk-taking.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “The decisive part of the season is now and I am 100 per cent sure Real Madrid will be 100 per cent ready for this game. That’s what we prepare for.”
Zinedine Zidane: “.”
The Officials (NED)
Referee: Björn Kuipers
Assistant referees: Sander van Roekel, Erwin Zeinstra
Fourth official: Tasos Sidiropoulos (GRE)
VAR: Pol van Boekel, Dennis Higler
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.