Champions League

UEFA Champions League Round of 16 Preview: Real Madrid vs Liverpool

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The 2022/23 UEFA Champions League took a hiatus in early November, shortly before the start of the World Cup and there has been a lull for more than two months now. The Champions League, inarguably Europe’s greatest competition returns to almost half a billion viewers and millions of screens in less than a month from now.

A tournament which never fails to deliver, the Champions League has always been full of surprises and no doubt, this current spell is no exception.

So far in this edition of the Champions League, the back of the net has been found 304 times in 96 matches, averaging 3.17 goals per game, with Paris Saint Germain’s Kylian Mbappe and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah sitting at the top of the goalscoring charts with seven goals each.

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On the back of a quite interesting Round of 16 draw in November, the entire football universe is set to experience some sensational match-ups in February and March. A couple of heavyweight fixtures have been thrown up for this round of Europe’s most illustrious tournament.

Defending champions and 14-time winners, Real Madrid, are heavily in the mix, as they look to add the quinzième UEFA Champions League to their trophy gallery in either Real Madrid City or the Santiago Bernabeu when they take on Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool, a remake of the 2022 final in Saint-Denis.

This series will look at the next round of matchups!

AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur

Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund

Club Brugge vs Benfica

Eintrach Frankfurt vs SSC Napoli

Inter Milan vs Porto

PSG vs Bayern Munich

RB Leipzig vs Manchester City

Real Madrid vs Liverpool

If you ever heard that the best is usually reserved for the last, then that is particularly true of this fixture. Perhaps the biggest and greatest on the list, Real Madrid will take on Liverpool in what happens to be a remake of last season’s final which Carlos Ancelotti’s side won 1-0 to win their record extending 14th UEFA Champions League trophy.

Madrid had the easier route in qualifying ahead of RB Leipzig, Shaktar Donetsk and Celtic but Napoli proved to be a bit of a tough nut to crack for Liverpool which is why Liverpool are facing their nemesis from last season in what looks like deja-vu from Stade Denis all over again.

Real Madrid

Madrid are not exactly the team they were last season. A couple of things have changed at the Bernabeu. While Karim Benzema still is a wonderful striker, his form last season where he scored 15 goals in the Champions League far surpasses this spell.

Placed second in the league and recently defeated in the finals of the Super Copa De Espana by arch-rivals, Barcelona, Carlos Ancelotti’s men are facing the dreadful possibilities of a season without a major trophy.

Liverpool

If Madrid are bad this season, them maybe Liverpool can be dubbed “worse”. Jurgen Klopp’s men had a rare chance to win a quadruple last term but spurned their chances due to the 1-0 defeat to Madrid in the final of the Champions League and reliqunishing the title race to Manchester City at the very last minute.

One would have thought Jurgen Klopp would come back harder this spell, at least that’s what some promised but it’s been a different story for the Reds this season, a downturn if it must be said. And Liverpool aren’t looking like the team that can exact revenge on their two time Champions League final nemesis.

Head-to-Head

The Reds and Los Blancos have an interesting history against each other. Madrid have won five times compared to Liverpool’s three while both sides have drawn just once. As a matter of fact, Madrid’s five wins have come in the past six meetings, four of which were managed by Jurgen Klopp and two of which were Champions League finals(2018 and 2022).

Liverpool’s three wins against the Spaniards came in 1981(1-0) and 2009(1-0, 4-0). Statistically speaking, it would be safe to say, Klopp’s side don’t have good memories of or a decent record against the fourteen time Champions.

Players to watch for:

Karim Benzema(Real Madrid)

The forward was and still is the biggest thing present in the Santiago Bernabeu. Benzema is currently lacking in form and may have lost a bit of his touch in front of goals but what better way to be revived than in the Champions League knock-out stages where he scored a handful of his fifteen goals last season.

Is Erling Haaland the best player in the world?

Yes

Yes

No

No

The French international surprisingly has no goals in Europe this season and has managed twelve goals in 18 appearances across all competitions.

Vinicius Junior(Real Madrid)

With eleven goals this season, the days when the Brazilian youngster would be needing to bear the weight of arguably the most successful club in Europe are finally here.

Since Benzema has had a dip in form, Vinicius would be needing to step in for his teammate or perhaps they create a syngery to help Madrid through to the quarter-finals. The youngster scored the only goal of the final against Liverpool back in May after enduring a difficult time with Liverpool’s defender, Ibrahim Konate.

Mohammed Salah(Liverpool)

As always, Salah’s the man for the Reds. The Egyptian King rarely fails to deliver and this is even more pronounced now that Sadio Mane is no longer in the mix of things for Liverpool. Salah ranks as top-joint highest goalscorer with Kylian Mbappe(seven goals each) in the Champions League this season, his highest ever in the group stages(alongside 2021-22).

The forward has 17 goals in 29 appearances this season for his club and it would be no strange thing to see him spearhead Liverpool’s revenge mission against Madrid come mid-February.

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Jesuyemi is an avid fan of sports, especially football. He also enjoys WWE and athletics. He's been writing for a few years now and is a supporter of FC Barcelona.

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