For a club with as storied a history in the Champions League as Liverpool, almost any opponent they might face in the knockout rounds is going to be one they’ve met in the past. The same could be said for Spanish giants Real Madrid.
When the two sides drew each other for the quarter finals of the 2020-21 edition of the tournament, then thoughts turned to that history—particularly a recent meeting, 2018’s Champions League final. For Liverpool, now is a chance for revenge.
In particular, it’s a chance for revenge for Mohamed Salah, who was injured by Sergio Ramos as the Reds fell to a 3-1 defeat at the Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv. The star attacker, though, insists his main focus is on success in the present.
“I have special motivation to win the tie and go through to the semi finals, [but] what’s going to happen now isn’t going to change the result of the final in Kiev,” Salah told Marca this week. “That’s in the past. That game is in the past.
“I’m thinking about our team. Everyone is focused on their team and everybody wants to win. Since then, we’ve won the Premier League and the Champions League. We’re winners. That’s a big change, [but] I think we’re both strong.”
Strong, perhaps, but most wouldn’t count either the current edition of Liverpool or Real Madrid as their best, with the Reds in the midst of an ongoing defensive injury crisis and Madrid still showing the effects of having lost Cristiano Ronaldo.
For Liverpool, those injuries have undermined their attempted Premier League title defence and see them chasing a top four place. For Madrid, they’re third in La Liga and don’t appear to be realistic challengers to local rivals Atletico this season.
Still, both sides have shown this season that they can still hit some of the heights they have in recent seasons—even if they can’t do so consistently. The question, then, will be which rises to the occasion when they meet next week.
“They’re in the quarter finals,” Salah added of Madrid. “They have great players, though they’ve lost Ronaldo’s goals. We have to be ready for them. Both teams will be prepared. It’s a special competition and both teams have done well in it.”