Liverpool have a tall task ahead of them on Wednesday. They enter the second leg of their Champions League showdown with Real Madrid down three goals after losing 5-2 in the opening leg. Now they’ll have to overcome their struggles away from home in a major way to advance to the last eight. Liverpool have shown that they can score goals in bunches, wiping aside Manchester United 7-0 but then they went and lost 1-0 to Bournemouth showcasing why they only have three away victories in Premier League play.
But Real Madrid also haven’t been infallible, only winning one of their last four games following the first leg victory over Liverpool. Los Blancos have dealt with an uncharacteristic scoring drought. Facing top La Liga sides like Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, and Real Betis, they only scored one goal before breaking out to score three against Espanyol. It’s hard to tell which Real Madrid side will show up to a match and that alone makes this a fascinating clash.
Here’s our storylines, how you can watch the match and more — and while you’re at it, sign up for our new newsletter covering the beautiful game in all its glory, including updates about the most important stories in the sport, here.
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How to watch and odds
Date: Wednesday, Mar. 15 | Time: 4 p.m. ET
Location: Estadio Santiago Bernabeu — Madrid
TV: None | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: RMA +130; Draw +270; LIV +180 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Featured Game | Real Madrid vs. Liverpool
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For 15 minutes, Liverpool were in dreamland as goals from Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah saw the Reds go ahead but they weren’t able to continue their pace, allowing five unanswered goals in their home stadium, including braces by Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema. That’s a loss that can damage a team’s psyche but oddly enough, most of the numbers were even outside of the final advantage on the scoresheet.
Alisson didn’t cover himself in glory, allowing five of nine shots on target while Liverpool missed two big chances. The Reds even won the expected goals battle, but none of it matters as they’ll need to come out of the gate quickly in the second leg to get back in the tie. The defense will be an afterthought as Jurgen Klopp needs goals, goals, and more goals to overturn this deficit.
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Real Madrid: Finally putting an end to their scoring woes against Espanyol couldn’t have come at a better time for Real Madrid. Only without Ferland Mendy and David Alaba, Carlo Ancelotti will have a full squad to choose from, most importantly meaning that Aurelien Tchouameni will be at the base of the midfield. Tchouameni has become one of the most important players for Los Blancos this season and by pulling the strings, the team will have a more balanced attack with him in midfield.
Liverpool: In midfield, Klopp will have a few worries in this match. Thiago was already sidelined but Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic will all miss the match leading to a likely pairing of Harvey Elliott and Fabinho behind a band of attackers. Joe Gomez, Luis Diaz and Calvin Ramsay will also miss the match.
After missing a penalty against Bournemouth, Mohamed Salah will look for a bounce back performance but he’ll need support from Cody Gakpo and Darwin Nunez to do that.
Confirmed starting lineups
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Nacho; Modric, Camavinga, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema (c), Vinicius Jr.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner (c); Salah, Jota, Nunez; Gakpo.
Player to watch
Real Madrid: Vini Jr. One of if not the most talented wingers in the World, Vini Jr already took advantage of his match with Trent Alexander-Arnold in the first leg scoring a brace as you can see from the touch map below. But he can flit in and out of matches for Real Madrid easily getting dispossessed on days when he isn’t in top form. Depending on which Vini Jr. shows up, Real Madrid can either score another five goals or concede five goals in the match.
He has 19 goals and nine assists this season but has only scored in three league or Champions Leauge matches since February. Some of that is down to Karim Benzema’s fitness but for Real Madrid to be at their best, Vini Jr needs to be at his best.
Liverpool: Darwin Nunez. While Salah’s importance to the club is undeniable, good Darwin performances usually lead to good Liverpool ones. With 14 goals and four assists this season, Nunez is hitting top form for the Reds as they’ve won eight of the 11 matches that he has scored in. While he did score in the first leg against Real Madrid, the rest of the team wasn’t able to back up that performance.
Fast forwarding to the Manchester United fixture, the entire front three found the back of the net and rolled to victory which is what Klopp will need in this match. Diogo Jota could start to help provide more support but Nunez is at his best only thinking about attacking, which will be how this match is set up.
An early goal will again give Liverpool hope but once Real Madrid equalizes, the wind will go out of their sails before the match ends up being a route. Vini Jr. and Karim Benzema will hit the back of the net in another landmark performance for Los Blancos. PICK: Real Madrid 3, Liverpool 1