Two clubs with an eye-watering 19 Champions League titles between them will lock horns on Tuesday as Real Madrid host Liverpool in the competition’s quarter finals.
The first leg in Madrid won’t be played at the prestigious Santiago Bernabeu stadium, but instead the far smaller Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano, home of Real Madrid’s reserve side.
Despite the change of venue, the clash still has blockbuster status with 13-time winners Real Madrid welcoming Jurgen Klopp’s 6-time winners to the Spanish capital in a repeat of the 2018 final.
That game was punctuated by a pair of Loris Karius errors in the Liverpool goal, as well as Gareth Bale’s acrobatic bicycle kick for Real Madrid which sealed the trophy for the La Liga side.
Even though Liverpool did earn Champions League redemption in 2019 by seeing off Bale’s current club Tottenham Hotspur – Reds fans will distinctly remember an incident between Mo Salah and Sergio Ramos in the 2018 showpiece which left the Egyptian unable to continue.
There will be no retribution regarding the Real Madrid centre back, however, as he isn’t deemed fit enough to play against Liverpool on Tuesday and will sit the game out.
Domestically, both sides have endured a disappointing campaign, with Liverpool mathematically unable to retain their Premier League crown this season after Manchester City’s win over Leicester at the weekend.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are still left with work to do to qualify for next season’s Champions League too, currently 8th in the standings with a cluster of other teams also chasing those top 4 places.
Real Madrid meanwhile are 3rd in La Liga, 3 points off leaders and cross-city rivals Atletico. Real have cut the deficit in recent weeks as Atletico have faltered, but Zinedine Zidane’s side have been underwhelming at best this campaign by their exceptionally high standards.
Fitness wise, Zidane will also be missing Dani Carvajal and Federico Valverde as well as Sergio Ramos, but ex-Chelsea star Eden Hazard is pushing for inclusion as he continues his swift recovery from a muscle problem.
Liverpool’s injury issues have been a running thread through the narrative of their season, and Jurgen Klopp will have the same group to pick from as the one who featured in the weekend’s Premier League win over Arsenal.
Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Joe Gomez and Jordan Henderson all remain missing, with Divock Origi also a doubt further up the pitch.
Klopp has options in the forward positions though, with another impressive display from Diogo Jota last time out giving the German food for thought when it comes to his favoured front three against Madrid.
Real Madrid v Liverpool in the Champions League Quarter Final 1st leg kicks off in the Spanish capital at 8pm.