Liverpool look to draw first blood against reigning European champions Real Madrid

Liverpool look to draw first blood against reigning European champions Real Madrid
Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp is expecting a 'a special game' against Real Madrid. (Photo: George Wood / Getty Images)

It will be a repeat of last season’s Champions League final when Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the round of 16, while Manchester City will look to take another step towards their European dream versus Leipzig.

The pain of last season’s Uefa Champions League final loss to Real Madrid still clearly lingers painfully in the recesses of the mind of Liverpool’s German manager, Jürgen Klopp.

In the lead-up to the duo clashing in the round of 16 of Europe’s elite club competition, Klopp described having to rewatch the match in preparation for Tuesay’s clash as “proper torture”. He felt his team had “played a good game” and “could have won”.

Of course, they didn’t. Instead, it was Madrid who took their opportunity and went on to celebrate their 14th Champions League title. Coincidentally, the Spanish juggernauts’ 13th European crown came against the Reds as well – during the final of the 2017/18 season.

The following season, Liverpool won their first Champions League trophy in 14 years after triumphing in an all-English final against Tottenham Hotspur. After the heartbreak of last season at the feet of Madrid’s magnificence, the six-time European champions will hope that this season can once again be theirs in a European context.

Especially because, domestically, it hasn’t been the most memorable season for the Reds to date. Far from it.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson during a Premier League match against Aston Villa on 12 February 2023. (Photo: Visionhaus / Getty Images)

The Merseyside-based outfit finds itself in eighth spot on the English Premier League table.

They have lost more than triple the matches they lost last season in the league, when, agonisingly, they finished a point behind eventual league champions Manchester City. The Madrid result in the Champions League final compounded that misery.  

Though they head into the clash with a win, since the turn of the year, the Reds have struggled to show the type of quality and ruthlessness they have become known for under Klopp.

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In the six league matches they have played this year they have lost three and drawn one. Most importantly, they have won the last two, including a 2-0 victory over the high-flying Newcastle United.

“Whatever we would have done at the weekend [won or lost], I would expect us to fight with all we have [against Madrid]. You always work so hard to qualify for the Champions League. So, you have to cherish these moments where you just think, ‘okay, that’s Liverpool vs Real Madrid’. We all dreamt of that,” said Klopp.

“It will be a special game. I expect Anfield on their toes, to be honest. I’m really happy for the people that they saw us in a better shape in the last two games, that they have a bit more things to look forward to. And yeah, let’s go together again.”

Read in Daily Maverick:Liverpool welcome Uefa report clearing fans over Champions League final chaos

As for the latest Liverpool recruit, Cody Gakpo, he says he and his teammates are well aware of the quality possessed by Los Blancos, who are second in the Spanish league.



“If you can get off to a good start at home and win by as many goals as possible, your starting position for the second leg will be so much better. Of course, it’s never that easy, especially against Real Madrid, but that’s our aim,” said Gakpo.

“They have a very experienced, mature team and lots of individual quality, especially up front with [Karim] Benzema and Vinícius [Júnior] and in midfield with [Luka] Modrić and [Toni] Kroos. All of them are very good players. They’ve got lots of individual quality, but so have we… It will be a great game.”

Continental City

Since the Emirati takeover of City in 2008, the one accolade that has proved elusive for the Manchester side has been the Champions League.

In 2021, the English champions were vanquished by Chelsea in the final. Last season they were ousted by eventual champions Madrid, in the semifinals.

Manchester City goalkeeper Ederson on the ball against Nottingham Forest on 18 February 2023. (Photo: Richard Sellers / Getty Images)

According to City goalkeeper Ederson, they are once again gunning for the prized trophy this season. However, they first have to navigate around German side RB Leipzig in the round of 16.

“That’s our main objective and the main objective of the club. We’ve been trying (to win it) and will carry on trying,” said the Brazilian.

“This year, we’re more than capable of getting to the final and challenging for the title. We’re a group of great quality and that shows how much the club has developed over the last five or six years, with Premier League titles, League Cups, FA Cups, Community Shields,” he added.

“This title is what the club needs. It’s what we athletes need and it’s what (manager Pep) Guardiola needs here at the club, too. This year, we’re going to try. We’re going after it.” DM

Champions League fixtures:


Liverpool vs Real Madrid (10pm)

Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli (10pm)


RB Leipzig vs Manchester City (10pm)

Inter Milan vs Porto (10pm)


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