Barcelona Heroics Needed
Jurgen Klopp’s side need to echo their heroics from the famous 4-3 comeback over Barcelona four years ago if they wish to remain in the Champions League this season, a feat that seems far-fetched due to the Reds’ stuttering league form this season.
Liverpool have gone from the sublime to the ridiculous this season and seem to constantly take one step forward and two steps back. For every win over Manchester City, Tottenham, and Napoli, there have been embarrassing defeats to Wolves, Leeds, Nottingham Forest, and Bournemouth. For every 7-0 pounding of Manchester United, Liverpool have been thrashed 3-0 by Brighton.
The 22/23 remains an enigma for Liverpool - one they’ll have to figure out if they wish to best Carlo Ancelotti’s serial-winners.
Liverpool Still Can’t Convince
Liverpool’s lack of consistency has been the downfall of their entire season, rendering them out of the Premier League title-picture and dumping them out of both cup competitions. The magic of the 2019/20 side is still there, but it remains hidden behind shoddy defensive performances and weaknesses in midfield. Injuries certainly haven’t helped their case, but the lack of conviction in this side is miles away from the ‘mentality monsters’ who have won every trophy available to them in recent seasons.
Thiago Alcantara, Luis Diaz, Joe Gomez, and Naby Kieta remain sidelined, but Virgil Van Dijk and Diogo Jota have recently returned to action. Darwin Nunez looks to be hitting form, whilst Mohamed Salah recently showed us how good he can be.
Real Madrid have issues of their own as they haven’t scored in over three total hours of football, with Karim Benzema currently on a month-long scoring-drought in La Liga and not scoring from open-play since January. The Frenchman has performed well in Europe and scored twice over Liverpool in the reverse fixture, but his overall drop-off in form has been a cause for concern.
There was no way Benzema could have topped his iconic 21/22 season, but the Ballon D’or winner must rekindle his form if he wishes to win a 6th Champions League title. His xG is still promising and the striker still gets into goal scoring positions, but growing injuries and advancing age are beginning to show their prominence.
Ferland Mendy and David Alaba remain sidelined for Real Madrid, but the starting XI for the Liverpool clash is likely to be the same as it was for the reverse fixture.
Liverpool have a mountain to climb when they travel to the Santiago Bernabeu on15 March. Whilst it’d be foolish to render their task impossible, their stuttering season and poor record against Los Blancos are anything but positive indicators.
Other Champions League Matches
Manchester City vs RB Leipzig (1-1 agg.)
Manchester City had to settle for a 1-1 draw in the first leg of their draw against RB Leipzig but they’ll have the home advantage against their opponents on Tuesday 14 March.
Pep Guardiola’s side still chase the Champions League trophy and the addition of Erling Haaland could give them the cutting-edge they need to take on Europe’s best.
RB Leipzig will need to pull off a famous win if they wish to advance to the last 8, but last season’s Champions League taught us that last-minute comebacks can happen when we least expect it.
Manchester City vs Leipzig will take place at the Etihad Stadium on Tuesday 14 March at 8pm.
Napoli vs Eintracht Frankfurt (2-0 agg.)
Runaway Serie A leaders Napoli will take on last season’s Europa League winners Eintracht Frankfurt on Wednesday 15 March at 8pm.
Napoli will take a 2-0 advantage into the clash, with stars like Victor Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in formidable form. A first Serie A title since 1990 looks ominous and the Italian club can further build upon their highly-impressive season by advancing to the Champions League quarter-finals.
Napoli vs Eintracht Frankfurt will take place at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium in Naples, Italy.
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