Liverpool vs Real Madrid | Wednesday 14th April 2021, 20:00 | BT Sport
It’s been some week for Real Madrid – taking control of this tie with a 3-1 first leg win, followed by an El Clasico victory which lifted them above their big Catalan rivals and just one point behind their league leading cross city neighbours Atletico.
Once again, a further reminder that Los Blancos are a big game team – it always seems to lift them as regular WLB readers will remember me pointing out after selecting them to win last week, adding Liverpool to the list of defeated clubs this season which includes Barcelona, now twice, Serie A champions elect Inter Milan (twice), Sevilla, Atalanta and Atletico Madrid.
The list of clubs who have beaten Zinedine Zidane’s men this season read as follows: Cadiz, Shakhtar Donetsk (twice), Valencia, Alaves, Athletic Bilbao, Levante and Alcoyano from Segunda División B – Group 3, with all due respect to those clubs' further evidence that Real are more likely to slip up when least expected.
Of course, the record holding 13 times winners of the Champions League/European Cup don’t NEED to win here but that’s not to say they WON’T!
Momentum is so important, especially at this time of the year when trophies are won and lost, so with their current unbeaten run sat at an impressive 13 games of which 11 are victories I can not only see Madrid wanting to win at Anfield but achieving that.
After such an incredible 2019/20 season, there was always the likelihood Liverpool would not be able to scale similar heights, but I don’t think anyone would have envisaged their impregnable home form being shattered so spectacularly.
An incredible sequence of 68 unbeaten home league games, stretching back to April 2017, was ended by Burnley and it began another equally incredible sequence – out of nowhere six successive home EPL losses, with Brighton, Man City, Everton, Chelsea and Fulham also all leaving with three points.
Prior to those run of league defeats, warning was actually served in this competition with Atalanta showing the Reds could be beaten in their own stadium and with a 2-0 win becoming the first side to do so in European competition since 22nd October 2014 – when, you’ve guessed it, Real Madrid swept aside Brendon Rodgers’ team 3-0 through a CR7 goal and a brace from a certain Karim Benzema.
With a packed Kop roaring their heroes on this could well be another legendary comeback, but although a home win over Aston Villa at the weekend finally ended that crazy six game losing streak, a come from behind win settled in injury time by a Trent Alexander-Arnold strike hasn’t put me off siding with Los Blancos once more with Unibet offering best odds of 13/5.
Clearly, chasing two-goal deficit Jurgen Klopp’s men will have to give this a proper go at some stage – but knowing if they leave the back door open a side containing Toni Kroos and Luka Modric pulling the strings feeding the explosive Vinicius Junior and goal machine Benzema, will make them pay.
The inexperienced pairing of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak will have their work cut out keeping the in-form Benzema quiet and I am sure he will be looking forward to using his years of know-how to exploit any weaknesses or slip ups after drawing his first blank in eight games in the first leg at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano – although he took just 13 minutes of the El Clasico to get back amongst the goals – it would be no surprise to see him add another to his impressive tally in this one.
With Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino all looking for starts for the home side and hoping to exploit the visitors deprived of at least ¾ of its first choice defence – this game wreaks of goals!
Not only do we have the game situation of Liverpool chasing the game, but an away side who have only managed to keep a clean sheet in one of their last eight matches across all competitions.
An early Liverpool goal would really set this up but even if Zidane’s side grabs an early strike, it’s safe to assume the hosts won’t still go anything less than full throttle in the only tournament left for them to win this season – so I’m happy to play the over 3.0 Asian Handicap goal line with Bet365 at odds of 19/20 – then sit back and watch something akin to a basketball match unfold – hopefully!