Real Madrid v Liverpool Cheat Sheet
Real Madrid v Liverpool
Home team Real Madrid hold a commanding position coming into this Champions League round of 16 second leg given their 5-2 victory at Anfield in February, but Liverpool and the travelling Kop will not have given up as they arrive at the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu. The game will kick off at 8pm GMT and will be broadcast live on BT Sport in the United Kingdom.
Since that meeting, the Spanish side have been far from convincing, drawing against Atlético Madrid and Real Betis either side of a home defeat to Barcelona and needing to come back from behind to beat mid-table Espanyol on Saturday. That means that even Jurgen Klopp’s most inconsistent Liverpool can hold out some hope of battling into this tie.
As Chelsea found out last season, it is possible to travel to the Bernabéu with a multiple-goal deficit and give Real Madrid a scare, but you’ll probably end up exiting the tournament anyway. The Blues had lost their first leg 3-1 at Stamford Bridge, before going ahead in the tie in Madrid but then ultimately winning just 3-1 on the night, and going out in extra time.
The lesson we can learn from that tie is that betting on the result in 90 minutes for this Wednesday’s second leg is a complicated task, but that a much simpler bet would be to back both teams to score.
Real Madrid matches this season have been producing 2.76 goals on average and both teams have scored in 60% of them, while Liverpool matches this season have been producing 2.92 goals on average and both teams have scored in 46% of them. Those stats show that these are two teams who score a lot and who concede a lot in normal circumstances, so it’s even more likely that we’ll see both teams on the scoresheet in a second leg such as this, with a situation where Liverpool need to push for goals from minute one and where they’ll have to leave space against one of the most clinical counter-attacking sides in the world.
If Liverpool are to get back into this tie, they will need to race out of the blocks and have a strong start to the game. Much of that will depend upon their Uruguayan striker Darwin Núñez who is expected to start in the target man role in Madrid as he seeks to maintain his record of scoring every time he starts against a Spanish side in Europe.
It won’t be a big ask for the forward, who has averages 5.08 shots per for the Reds this season, with goal involvements in three of his last six matches including goals against Real Madrid in the first leg and against Newcastle in the Premier League.
Liverpool could replicate the approach of Real Madrid’s most recent LaLiga opponent, Espanyol, and look to bombard the home team’s box with a direct approach from the off. Espanyol had three shots and 0.8 xG in the first 15 minutes through that style, and that would likely mean aiming for Darwin, given that his 7.24 touches in the box per 90 are the Premier League’s highest.
The onus here is on Liverpool to dominate the ball and to push for goals, so Real Madrid will be doing a lot of defending on Wednesday night, and football’s great motivator Carlo Ancelotti will have no problem in getting all 11 of his players committed to that gameplan.
That includes Vinícius, who doesn’t mind putting in the defensive work on big occasions such as this. The problem is that he’s a dribbler and not a tackler, so the Brazilian often commits fouls, including tactical fouls high up the pitch to snuff out counter-attacking opportunities when his team loses the ball.
While a lot of the talk around Vinícius is about how often he is fouled by defenders, in 2022/23 he is also committing more fouls per 90 minutes than in any other season in his young career, with 1.66 fouls committed per game. That includes the two fouls he committed in the first leg at Anfield and, since we should expect wave after wave of Liverpool attacks, it’d be no surprise to see the Brazilian commit at least a couple on Wednesday.
Real Madrid are likely to allow Liverpool to have possession to a certain extent, similar to how they did in the first leg but to an even more extreme level. At Anfield, Liverpool attempted 560 passes, 45 more than Real Madrid, while there was a 99 pass difference in the Champions League final in May, again in Liverpool’s favour.
Among those leading the number of passes in both games is Virgil van Dijk. The defender has averaged 65.28 passes per 90 this season across Premier League and Champions League matches, but that is trending upwards with his last six matches producing an average of 73.83 passes per 90. That paints this selection in good stead ahead of his trip to the Estadio Santiago Bernabéu.
Breaking down Los Blancos will not be easy and that will have to start with build-up play right from the back, meaning that Van Dijk will have a key role to play in that. As a guaranteed starter with a substantial role to play in the build-up, the chance of his extending his passing prolific recent form is high.
Written by an Andy verified content writer
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