Madrid, March 14 (IANS) Real Madrid entertain Liverpool in the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Wednesday in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.
The reigning title holders are clear favorites to progress against the side they beat in last season’s final after a 5-2 win in Liverpool three weeks ago, where they picked holes in a fragile Liverpool midfield and defense.
Liverpool have shown some signs of recovery since then, with a 7-0 thrashing of an in-form Manchester United, but Jurgen Klopp’s side was brought crashing back to earth again at the weekend when they lost 1-0 to Bournemouth, who had started that game bottom of the Premier League.
Real Madrid ended an indifferent run of form, which saw them lose to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and draw with Atletico Madrid and Betis, with a comfortable 3-1 victory over Espanyol on Saturday, a Xinhua report said.
Karim Benzema, David Alaba and Ferland Mendy all missed Saturday’s match through injury, although it looks as if Mendy and Benzema will be fit to play on Wednesday night.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti will want Benzema to get some game time, but with El Clasico away to FC Barcelona on Sunday, he won’t take many risks ahead of a game that Real Madrid have to win to have any chance of retaining their La Liga title.
Wednesday’s visit to the Bernabeu is Liverpool’s last game before the international break.
Klopp said after the first leg that it would be almost impossible for his side to get back into the tie, but despite the ongoing injuries to Thiago Alcantara, Joe Gomez, Naby Keita and Luis Diaz, he will be looking for a reaction.
Prior to last weekend’s setback, Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah were giving signs that they are starting to work as an attacking unit, and Virgil van Dijk is now at full match fitness.
If Liverpool could overturn a three-goal deficit, it would be a miracle, but if Madrid are focused on next weekend, Liverpool could give them some nervous moments.