Liverpool v Real Madrid: Champions League last 16, first leg – live | Champions League


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Liverpool v Real Madrid: the modern age

Players who will miss the second leg if they are booked tonight

  • Trent Alexander-Arnold

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Liverpool team news: Nunez starts

Darwin Nunez is fit to play, which is a big boost for Liverpool, and one that allows Jurgen Klopp to name an unchanged side for the first in a while. The teenager Stefan Bajcetic, one of the catalysts of Liverpool’s mini revival, makes his full Champions League debut.

Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez.
Substitutes: Adrian, Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Elliott, Jota, Tsimikas, Carvalho, Matip.

Few football writers in the world, if any, produce as many good interviews as Sid Lowe. This sitdown with the extraordinary Eduardo Camavinga is another cracker.

Real Madrid team news

Madrid have announced their team a bit early. Carlo Ancelotti makes two changes from Real’s win at Osasuna at the weekend. Karim Benzema is back after being rested in Pamplona, which means Fede Valverde moves into midfield and Dani Ceballos is left out. Another Dani C, Carvajal to be precise, replaces Nacho at right-back.

The bench includes Toni Kroos, who was supposed to be absent through illness but was added to the squad this afternoon.

Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Rudiger, Alaba; Valverde, Camavinga, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Substitutes: Lunin, Vallejo, Nacho, Hazard, Kroos, Asensio, Odriozola, Lucas Vasquez, Dani Ceballos, Mario Martin, Arribas, Alvaro.


Here’s one we wrote earlier, for today’s Football Daily email.


You can sum up Jürgen Klopp’s Big Cup story at Liverpool in one word. It’s not “heavy”, or “metal”; it’s not even “heavy-metal” when it’s used as an adjective. It’s “Madrid”. Liverpool beat Spurs at the Estadio Metropolitano, aka the House of Simeone, in 2019 to win their sixth title. In the other four seasons, from 2018-22, they were eliminated by Madrid’s finest: Real three times, including two finals, and Atlético in a just-before-Covid night that gets weirder with every recall. So it was no great surprise when Liverpool, who had a one-in-four chance of drawing Real Madrid in the last 16, drew Real Madrid in the last 16.

The bad news for Liverpool is that Madrid have been – please tell us there’s an award for naffest portmanteau – their Klopptonite in this competition. Also, having signed Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouaméni and probably Jude Bellingham, Real are the reason Liverpool’s heavy-metal midfield has been frozen in time. The good news for Liverpool is that you’re only as good as your next Madrid tie. Truth is, with a fair wind and a goalkeeper swap or two, Liverpool could have won the 2018 and 2022 finals, so the teams are closer than a post-Dossena scoreline of Real 11-2 Liverpool might suggest.

“I didn’t watch [the 2022 final] back until this weekend and the thing I realised immediately was … why I hadn’t,” sighed Klopp, symbolically frisbeeing the match DVD out of the nearest open window. “It was proper torture because we played a good game and could have won – and that’s the decisive word because we could but didn’t, because they scored and we didn’t. We saw how experienced Madrid is and how little they are fussed by the fact the other team has chances … What held us back a little was the fact it was a final and we did not take enough risks in little moments. We were not adventurous enough.”

One man who will never lack adventure is the sometimes harrowingly intrepid Darwin Núñez, and Liverpool are hopeful he will recover from shoulder-knack to play some part at Anfield on Tuesday night. “So,” continued Klopp, “somebody told me – and I don’t even know if it was true – that Carlo [Ancelotti] said after the final, that [with] Liverpool it’s cool because they knew exactly what they will face.” Not anymore. Núñez – and Football Daily says this with love, having defended him since day one and misses three and four – is about as predictable as the afterlife. But even in a season when he has been incessantly ridiculed, Núñez has 11 goals and four assists in 28 games – 10 of which were substitute appearances.

Núñez’s presence – not to mention the absence of Tchouaméni, Toni Kroos and indeed Casemiro in the Madrid midfield – is among the reasons Liverpool hope that this time, more than any other, they’ll find a way to beat a team from Madrid. But Real have one or two or 14 reasons for optimism themselves. And if they put Klopp out of Big Cup again, they might even get to keep him.