Madrid and Liverpool traveled to Paris last May in search of glory and seven months later they meet again at Anfield, this Tuesday in the first leg of the round of 16 (21:00, Movistar Champions League), pushed more by necessity given the situation in their respective leagues. Especially the English, who in the Premier can only aspire, and thanks, to the Champions League positions (seven points separate them). In Spain, the cruising speed of Barcelona keeps the whites at bay, and still far (eight points).
Nursing doesn’t help either. Ancelotti could not travel with Tchouameni and Kroos, afflicted by both viruses, according to the club. The German was hit so hard by gastroenteritis that it has left him out of circulation all week, and with the French they do not want to run the risk of contagion, according to the official explanations for the two cases. So the vaunted transition in the middle, more real to date in the days between the wars than in the celebrations of saving, asks for a clue in the sanctuary grid. Camavinga and Ceballos, two of the fittest players, claim their turn. “This is a forced transition that we did not want,” Carlo Ancelotti admitted on Monday regarding the forced changes that he will have to make in Liverpool. Benzema, back from another break, is expected upstairs along with the infinite percussion of Vinicius. “It’s a pleasure to see him right now,” Carletto said of the Brazilian.
On the other side, Jürgen Klopp, who has just recovered Van Dijk and Firmino, cannot count on Luis Díaz or Thiago, and has doubts about Darwin Núñez. “It depends on what the pain can bear,” said the German coach of the Uruguayan, the second most expensive signing in the club’s history (80 million, after Van Dijk’s 84), whose performance has not satisfied anyone.
The day places Madrid before the vertigo of a Liverpool, also eliminated from its two cups (FA Cup and Carabao), who handles the last bullet to aspire to more things than getting the minimum grade with the Champions League classification. Despite his last two victories (Everton and Newcastle), his season so far has been a calamity and the continental showcase offers him the last (and great) shot, pushed to begin with by a fan that never conjugates the verb surrender. This will be only the fourth time that Madrid has visited the temple in its history gridand the last one, in the second leg of the 2020-21 quarterfinals, was without an audience (0-0).
“Now we look more like ourselves. We have to play two perfect games. Otherwise we have no chance. Madrid, even if they don’t reach their best level, will still have their chance. On difficulty, they know they will enjoy their choices. They don’t panic”, assessed the German coach, who added that in the final in Paris they did not risk “enough” because they were afraid of Madrid’s cons. An idea that, corrected in these eighths, would shake up the reissue of the last final even more.
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