Real Madrid 3 - 1 Liverpool FC
Los Blancos: Vincius 27’, 65, Asensio 36’
The Reds: Salah 51’
A Champions League quarterfinal against Real Madrid. Regardless of everything else going on in football and the rest of the world, if that doesn’t get you excited, then you should probably give up footy altogether.
The big, and potentially good news as far as Liverpool are concerned, are the absences of Sergio Ramos, Eden Hazard, and Raphael Varane. Jurgen Klopp, in turn, took the opportunity to put out a very attacking lineup. Naby Keita gets the big call up in midfield over Thiago, and in-form striker Diogo Jota takes Roberto Firmino’s place to lead the attack. Not only is the starting lineup very attacking, but with Thiago, Firmino, and Curtis Jones on the bench, Kloppo has lots of options if a goal is needed in the waning stages of the match.
Even without fans, it’s a big, big occasion. Let’s hope Liverpool can do the business and bring an advantage back to Anfield for the second leg.
Not a good opening few minutes from the Reds, as they find themselves immediately on the backfoot and struggling to move the ball out of their own half. Several errant passes have not helped inspire confidence early.
If the the first five minutes weren’t great, the next 10 minutes were worse. The hosts have managed to fashion a few half chances, and a few nervy near-fouls in and around the box. Liverpool could really do with getting their foot on the ball for a few minutes, if only to relieve the pressure.
Goal. Real Madrid opened scoring, playing Route 1 football, taking advantage of Nat Phillip’s (lack of) pace. It has been coming, but hopefully it serves as a wake up call for the visitors.
It almost went from bad to worse when it looked like Kabak conceded a penalty with a clumsy change on Benzema. Somehow the ref waved play on and VAR didn’t pull it back. A moment later another nailed-on foul, this time in a dangerous spot for the Reds, wasn’t given. So, I guess fair play? Seriously though, that looked a penalty all day, every day. At this rate, Liverpool need to get to halftime and regroup.
Goal. Or, you know, concede again. A horrible, and unnecessary giveaway from Trent helped play Asensio in on goal. Alisson got a hand to the first effort, but he slotted the follow up.
And then Sadio went into the book for protesting about a foul that wasn’t given in the lead up to the goal. Can we please get through the rest of the half (five minutes) without more bad shit happening? Please?!
Well, Klopp has seen enough. His Keita experiment clearly didn’t work out, and he was hooked minutes before the half for Thiago. It’s a rare bit of ruthlessness from Klopp, and much appreciated under the circumstances.
Liverpool start brightly earning a couple of free kicks in dangerous areas. Let’s just say that Thiago is already helping move things along.
GOAL! It’s a sloppy one, but it still counts! Wijnaldum does well to drive it up the pitch and pick out Jota. Jota dribbled into the box and fired a shot that is deflected into Salah’s path. Salah surprised even himself by a) being onside, b) getting it under control, and c) finishing it with a kiss off the underside of the bar. And just like that, Liverpool are back in this thing!
With an hour gone the Reds remain on the front foot. There are more goals in this, and possibly going both ways. Honestly a 3-2 loss would feel pretty good after the shitshow of the first half.
Trent made amends, and in a big way, for his first half error. He’s the last defender left on a 2-v-1 break, and does brilliantly to break it up...and then that happened.
Goal. Real Madrid score on a throw-in. Someone get Thomas Gronnemark on the line.
With quarter of an hour yet to play, has definitely been a better second half than the first, but Liverpool still haven’t done enough to create quality chances. And, of course, conceding too easily.
Klopp finally made some more subs, bringing on Firmino and Shaqiri for Jota and Kabak, with about 10 minutes left to play. Fabinho moved back to center back (I thought we were done with that experiment?!). I guess it’s worth a roll of the dice to get a second away goal. I guess.
Listen, it’s a bad result. But not the worst result. 3-1 is better than 2-0, especially considering the horrific first half performance. Regardless, Liverpool have their work cut out for them at Anfield. It will be a task, no doubt, made all the more difficult in an empty stadium.