Santiago Bernabeu forms the backdrop for Wednesday night’s showpiece event as Real Madrid look to formalise their place in the Champions League quarter-finals when they host Liverpool.
Carlo Ancelotti’s men rendered Liverpool’s early two-goal lead useless as they rallied to a phenomenal comeback, recording a 5-2 first-leg triumph at Anfield three weeks ago.
While it would take the mother of all collapses for the quarter-final tickets to change hands, the European champions will need to do their part to avoid any unlikely slip-ups.
Having raced to glory in the La Liga and Champions League last season, defending both crowns while trying to add further success has proven a tough task for Los Blancos this term.
Faltering at every turn since their exceptional feat in Merseyside, Ancelotti’s white angels are on the verge of a Copa Del Rey exit while seeing the gap to runaway league leaders Barcelona extended to nine points.
Los Blancos can only boast one win in their last four games in all competitions (D2, L1), including a 1-0 defeat to rivals Barcelona in the first leg of their Copa del Rey semi-final.
However, goals from Vinicius Junior, Eder Militao and Marco Asensio helped Madrid return to winning ways with a comeback victory over Espanyol at the weekend.
Meanwhile, amid their huffs and puffs in the Spanish top flight, a major milestone awaits the European royalty, who will steal the spotlight when they take centre stage in the Champions League for their 300th encounter in the competition.
Deflated after their first-leg collapse, Liverpool followed the Anfield drubbing with an uninspiring goalless stalemate with Crystal Palace.
However, as has been the case for much of the campaign, the Reds returned to winning ways against Wolverhampton Wanderers and Manchester United but suffered another setback in a 1-0 defeat to relegation-threatened Bournemouth at the weekend.
Inconsistency has been the theme of Liverpool’s season, but despite their glaring flaws, a top-four berth is still within their grasp as they sit six points behind fourth-placed Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League table with a game in hand.
The hunt for the top four will continue, but they first have to accomplish arguably the most audacious task in all of European football at the Bernabeu if they want to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
However, the odds are firmly stacked against them as Madrid have progressed from 26 of the last 27 times that they have won the first leg of a Champions League tie away from home, with their only defeat in this run coming against Ajax in the 2018/19 campaign.
One win in four games is not the best way to head into a crucial Champions League clash, but form tends to go out the window when Los Blancos fight to preserve their birthright.
The Spanish giants also seem to have Liverpool’s number, as they are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League meetings with the Reds (W6, D1).
Madrid are set to feature in their 300th Champions League game, which is at least 20 more than any other side have managed since the competition’s rebrand in 1992.
The Whites are also looking to win five consecutive home games in the competition for the first time since a run of eight between September 2015 and October 2016.
With nothing left to lose, Liverpool will be looking to pull off another famous European comeback.
They are one of just four sides to have progressed from a Champions League knockout tie after losing the first leg by 3+ goals – the 2018/19 feat over Barcelona comes to mind.
However, the absence of the Anfield faithful to rally them to an improbable victory may have a telling contribution to their performance at the Bernabeu as their away form this year has been disappointing.
They have picked up just two wins from eight contests on the road so far. However, they are one of four English sides to have recorded victory against Madrid at the Bernabeu in European competition (along with Arsenal, Manchester City and Chelsea).
But they have not done so since February 2009, having lost their last two visits to the Spanish capital.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool Potential Line-ups
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Thibaut Courtois; Daniel Carvajal, Eder Militao, Antonio Rudiger, Nacho Fernandez; Luka Modric, Aurelien Tchouameni, Toni Kroos; Federico Valverde, Karim Benzema, Vinicius Junior.
Liverpool (4-3-3): Alisson; Trent Alexander-Arnold, Ibrahima Konate, Virgil Van Dijk, Andrew Robertson; Fabinho, Jordan Henderson; Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota, Darwin Nunez; Cody Gakpo.
How to Watch?
Madrid vs Liverpool, alongside all other matches in Europe’s most prestigious club competition this season, is available to watch online via Champions League live streams.
And if you are interested in attending a future UCL game, see our Champions League tickets page for more information.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool Prediction
Liverpool have a point to prove but achieving the near-impossible may be out of their reach, especially with their patchy form this season.
However, Ancelotti’s men cannot expect to keep the vengeful Reds at bay for the entire 90 minutes, but their first-leg triumph should be enough to propel them to the quarter-final.
Real Madrid 2-2 Liverpool (Agg: 7-4)
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