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Dublin: 12°C Thursday 13 May 2021


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Evening everybody, welcome to what might be Another Famous European Result at Anfield. We say result rather than night given the lack of atmosphere renders it incomparable with the many nights of rich noise and improbability the stadium has hosted down the years.  

Liverpool will need to find inspiration from somewhere tonight: they trail Real Madrid 3-1 on aggregate from last week’s first leg at Valdebebas and so need to win by two goals to wrangle a spot in the semi-finals. 2-0 will do it on away goals; concede and a 3-1 win will send the tie to extra-time. 

Klopp’s side at least arrested their appalling home form with a win against Aston Villa last Saturday, but Madrid arrive into tonight’s game on the crest of a wave. Having beaten Liverpool 3-1 in the first leg – a result that flattered Liverpool – they then won the Clasico on Saturday night, and the 2-1 scoreline flattered Barcelona. 

Like Liverpool, Madrid have significant injury problems, and are on Merseyside without without their two first choice centre backs (Ramos and Varane) their two first choice right backs (Carvajal and Lucas Vasquez) and their record signing (Hazard).

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Kick off at Anfield is at 8pm, and team news follows next…

Team News


Jurgen Klopp goes back to the 4-3-3 he knows best, with James Milner and Roberto Firmino returned to the starting XI having missed out on the first leg.

Naby Keita and, more surprisingly, Diogo Jota drop out. This is the system that has worked well for Liverpool in the past, but can it endure their lack of pace at centre-back, Milner’s aging legs, and Sadio Mane’s dreadful form? 

Thiago is among the subs. 

Real Madrid 

Zidane’s latest injury problem is at right-back, with Lucas Vasquez out for the season. Fede Valverde comes in, and he looks most likely to play at right-back, but don’t rule out a back three with Casemiro at the heart of it. 

There’s been a bit of a pre-game hullaballoo: Real Madrid’s team bus was shellacked on arrival, and a window has been smashed. 

Liverpool progressing tonight looks an unlikely prospect, but their supporters might find some solace in a few omens from their astonishing victory in 2004/05. 

In that season, they knocked a Bundesliga side (Bayer Leverkusen) out in the last-16, then the side that had least beaten them most recently in a European Cup final (Juventus, in 1985) in the quarter-finals before a semi-final against Chelsea sent them to the final Istanbul.

This season, Liverpool knocked a Bundesliga side in the last-16 (RB Leipzig) and they are currently in a quarter-final against the last side to beat them in the final of this competition (Real Madrid, 2018.) 

If they win this, they’ll face Chelsea in the semi-final, and this year’s final is in…Istanbul. 

Oh, and in 2004/05 they imploded in the Premier League and finished outside of the top four, behind a side managed by David Moyes. That might well happen again this season, too. 

Jurgen Klopp spoke ahead of the first leg (staged in an empty training ground) of Liverpool needing to create their own atmosphere…at which they failed dismally. 

The players have requested that the PA system is cranked up ahead of tonight’s kick-off, so the tunes are blasting out around Anfield at the moment. BT Sport picked a bad night to do their broadcast from inside the ground. 

Liverpool have issued a statement condemning the pre-game bus-smashing. 

“We condemn unequivocally the actions that led to Real Madrid’s team bus being damaged during its arrival to Anfield this evening. It is totally unacceptable and shameful behaviour of a few individuals. We sincerely apologise to our visitors for any distress caused. We will work together with Merseyside Police to establish the facts and identify those responsible.”

liverpool-v-real-madrid-uefa-champions-league-quarter-final-second-leg-anfield Source: PA

If any reporters need an intro in the event of a Liverpool upset tonight…

“This is Anfield, even without the fans” says Jurgen Klopp. 

We will keep you up to date with the other game of the night, as Borussia Dortmund host Manchester City, trailing 2-1 from the first leg. 

Gearing up for kick off now at Anfield. 

A reminder that Real Madrid lead 3-1 from the first leg, so Liverpool must win by two goals. 

A 2-0 win for Liverpool will send them through on away goals. 

The teams are in the tunnel, ready to emerge. A recording of You’ll Never Walk Alone rings around an empty Anfield…a year into this and it’s still as eerie and terrible as ever. 

Wijnaldum, Milner, Mane and Alexander-Arnold will miss the semi-final first leg if they are booked tonight. Given Liverpool’s predicament, they’d all take a yellow if it meant having a semi-final to miss. 

Valverde and Mendy the Real Madrid players in the same situation. 

The players observe a minute’s silence ahead of tomorrow’s 32nd anniversary of the Hillsborough tragedy. 


We’re underway! 


Liverpool defend the Kop in the first half, as is their tradition. 

James Milner has flown into a challenge on Karim Benzema – referee says no foul but Benzema is limping gingerly away. 


Big save Courtois! 

Kabak punts there ball long for Mane, who cushions the ball inside for Mane, but his first-time shot is blocked by the Madrid goalkeeper. Huge chance for Salah! 


Mane means business. 

He glides by Valverde on the left wing and fizzes a lovely ball into the box slightly ahead of Firmino, but Salah scarpers onto it and forces a corner. 

Mane then heads the corner over the crossbar – but this has been a very lively start by Liverpool. 


Liverpool have their pressing game back. They are haring after Madrid, and Alexander-Arnold finally wins the ball high on the right flank, but his first-time cross doesn’t quite break kindly enough for Salah to force a shot. 


Alexander-Arnold wins a corner, which he plays short – heard that before? – to Milner, but his first-time pull-back is scuffed and Madrid hack the ball clear.

Madrid’s bus was in the news ahead of kick-off…but they haven’t got off it yet. 


Liverpool win another corner, which Phillips throws himself at and flattens Benzema and Militao while he’s at it. Referee Bjorn Kuipers gives a free out, and it’s finally a chance for Madrid to breathe. 

This has been a ferocious start from Liverpool. 


Better from Madrid, as Kabak is forced to block a Modric shot from the edge of the box behind for a corner. 


Madrid’s corner goes short too, and Modric is given way too much space to loft a ball to the far post, but Benzema is flagged offside. 


Superb save by Courtois! 

Marvellous from Liverpool: Alexander-Arnold wins the ball over the halfway line, and Salah and Firmino work the ball in-field for Milner, whose curling effort from distance is pushed over the crossbar by Madrid’s goalkeeper. 

Liverpool again went short with the corner, but again it came to nothing. 


Mane is flagged offside in meeting Alexander-Arnold’s cross, but Liverpool turned the ball over in their own left-bak zone and had oceans of space in midfield in which to gallop through. 

If Liverpool can get the ball off Modric, Kroos and Casemiro, there is space to exploit… 


Much better by Madrid, as they get the ball under control and move Liverpool around. 


Elsewhere, some very interesting news from Germany: Borussia Dortmund lead Manchester City. Dortmund going through as it stands…. 


Mane wins a free-kick high on the right wing, and Kabak heads over Robertson’s delivery. 


Madrid have done a good job of taking the sting from Liverpool in the last few minutes: Salah tries to release Mane in behind first time but the ball is slightly loose, and Mane fouls Militao in trying to win it back. 

Madrid take their sweet time over the restart. 


Off the post! 

Liverpool and Nat Phillips get out of jail. 

Benzema gets by Phillips on Madrid’s left touchline, accelerates into the box, and with numbers in support, instead shoots and sees the ball deflect off Kabak and then the post. 


Fabinho is robbed in midfield by Casemiro, and the Liverpool midfielder fouls Casemiro in trying to retrieve the ball. 

Casemiro spent ages writhing on the ground, then limped about very gingerly…and then sprints across to clean out Milner in front of Klopp on the touchline! 

Klopp goes nuts – the tackle was so late – and Casemiro gets booked. 

Andy Robertson gets booked too, for protesting too much. 


The game has slowed down a lot in the last few minutes, and become the kind of bitty, scrappy game that suits Madrid. 


So poor by Firmino. Liverpool break, and Salah runs into the box leaving room for Alexander-Arnold to break into the box…but Firmino plays a tame pass right to Nacho. 


Madrid enjoy a period of possession, but Asencio plays a sloppy ball back into his own half that Mane almost pounces on ahead of Valverde. 


Lengthy period of Liverpool possession comes to nothing, as Milner lofts a loose cross into Courtois’ arms. Real Madrid are beginning to look somewhat comfortable here. 


Better from Liverpool: Alexander-Arnold plays a left-footed cross to the back post for Mane, but the ball is slightly too far ahead of him and it skids out of play. 


Another chance missed for Liverpool! 

Mane and Firmino link up well to square the ball for Salah, but he lifts his shot over the bar into the box! 


Oh my word, another big chance gone for Liverpool. 

Superb by Alexander-Arnold as he drives into the box and to the byline, he pulls the back superbly for Wijnaldum, but he fires a shot from just right of the penalty spot over the crossbar. 

Dreadful effort. 


HT: Liverpool 0-0 Read Madrid

There goes the whistle – Liverpool have been good and have created enough chances to have scored the two goals they need, but Wijnaldum and particularly Salah have been wasteful.

Madrid came closest to scoring when Benzema’s deflected shot hit Alisson’s post, but that was a half in which Liverpool can be encouraged that progression is within their reach…though frustrated at their wretched finishing. 


We’re back underway! 

Liverpool have 45 minutes to score two goals and save their season. 


No changes for either side at the break. 


Outrageous pass by Alexander-Arnold with the outside of his foot picks out Firmino in the box, who controls, swivels, and drives a shot at Courtois.

Liverpool out of the blocks quickly. 


Another big chance for Firmino! 

Lovely play by Liverpool involving Salah, Milner and Wijnaldum releases Alexander-Arnold down the right, but his cross is headed wide at the front post by Firmino. 


Valverde bursts down the right touchline and floats a lovely cross into the box for Benzema, whose first touch is gorgeous but the second slightly loose, and Alisson comes off his line to collect. 


In Dortmund: Manchester City have equalised on the night though a Mahrez penalty, so that puts them ahead on aggregate. 


Heroic stuff from James Milner: Mendy saunters into the Liverpool box and pulls the ball back for Benzema, but Milner makes a superb block. He has probably been Liverpool’s best player of the night so far. 


Firmino drives a long-range shot into the Kop, after Madrid switch off from a quick Alexander-Arnold throw-in. 

It seems like Diogo Jota and Thiago have been beckoned to warm up… 


Alexander-Arnold slides in and makes a great sliding challenge to cut out a through ball for Vinicius. He has been very good thus far tonight, Alexander-Arnold. 


Phillips shoots up and bundles clumsily into Casemiro, for which he is booked. 

Liverpool make their changes: Milner and Ozan Kabak are off for Thiago and Jota. 

It’s 4-2-3-1 for Liverpool now: Fabinho to centre back, Wijnaldum and Thiago into midfield with Salah up front and the remaining trio behind him. 

Liverpool need goals. 


Liverpool haven’t yet got any thrust from their subs – the game is in a lull and Madrid are eager to kill as much time as they can. 


Madrid are happy to sit in now: Modric, Kroos and Casemiro are barely crossing the halfway line. 

It’s up to Liverpool to break them down, but they have really struggled against deep-lying teams so far this season. 


Mane robs Mendy in the box but he overcooks his cross for Jota, and Valverde concedes the corner. 


Casemiro heads the corner away, and Thiago wastes the second ball. 


Huge save by Alisson! 

Valverde pings a stunning pass over the Liverpool defence for Vinicius who leaves Phillips in his wake, but the goalkeeper rushes out and blocks the shot. 


Alexander-Arnold pokes the ball through for Salah eight yards from goal, but he dallies over his shot and eventually sees it blocked behind by Militao for a corner. 

Alexander-Arnold is effectively Liverpool’s playmaker here. If anything’s going to happen for them here, it’s likely to go through him…


Thiago quarterbacks a pass for Alexander-Arnold, sprinting to the endline. He volleys across to Firmino, and his shot is blocked in the box. 


All Liverpool now and Madrid are just piling bodies into their box. Now Jota wriggles into some space and sees a shot deflected into the side-netting. 

Liverpool’s corner yet again comes to nothing, though. 


Double change for Madrid – Kroos is off for defender Odriozola – we may see Valverde go into midfield – and Rodrygo replaces Vinicius. 


Liverpool are totally dominant now, but Madrid are happy to sit deep and defend their penalty area.

Can Liverpool bludgeon their way through? 

And can they do it twice? 


Manchester City now lead 2-1 in Dortmund, and are surely heading for the semi-finals against Paris Saint-Germain. 


Madrid venture forward, and Asensio’s shot is blocked by Jota for a corner. They will take their time over this, and this is now looking an increasingly doomed situation for Liverpool. 


Now Liverpool can’t get the ball off Madrid. The clock among their enemies now…


Firmino forces Liverpool’s tenth corner of the night. Surely they can make something of one of these…


…not that one. Tame header by Phillips trickles wide. 


Phillips forced into some defending, and he blocks an Asensio cross behind for a corner. 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain coming on for Liverpool shortly. 


Huge chance for Benzema! 

Free header, middle of the goal, edge of the six yard box, but he heads it into the ground and it bounces over the bar! 

Oxlade-Chamberlain and Shaqiri are on for Mane and Firmino, while Isco comes on for Asensio. 

Liverpool need a miracle at this point. 


Madrid have again funnelled 11 players behind the ball, and Liverpool really struggling to puncture any holes in them. They spend two minutes working the ball right to left and then lose it. 


Liverpool just cannot create anything: again they pass the ball in front of Madrid, and Oxlade-Chamberlain eventually just hoiks the ball into he box and it’s much too close to Courtois. 


Robertson makes a great run off the left wing and in behind the Madrid defence, but Thiago overhits his chipped pass. 

So poor from Thiago, and Liverpool look like they’ll pay for their first-half profligacy. 


Robertson overhits a terrible cross for Salah that Alexander-Arnold does well to keep alive. But now everything has reset to Liverpool passing about in front of Madrid. 


Four added minutes from which Liverpool need to pluck a miracle. 


Jota flights a terrible cross out of play. Liverpool could be playing until tomorrow night and not score here. 


Thiago wins the ball high, slips the ball in for Salah, but his shot from a narrow angle is blocked by Courtois. The ball then rebounded off Salah, so it’s a goal kick, and that’s probably it for Liverpool. 


Much better cross by Oxlade-Chamberlain for Salah, but Nacho does superbly to cut the ball out and head behind for a corner. 

Said corner comes to nothing. 

FT: Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid 

And that’s it, Liverpool are out and their wretched season will have no improbable Istanbul reprieve. 

They were ultimately made to pay for their terrible first half in the first leg, but they created enough chances in the first half of this game to salvage the tie. Madrid progress to a semi-final with PSG, and Liverpool need to find a way of making it back here next year, which looks unlikely too. 

Madrid were comfortable in the second half, and their nous and experience makes them major contenders again this year. 

Liverpool, meanwhile, need a reboot. 

Thanks for following, bye! 

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About the author:

Gavin Cooney


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