The two European heavyweights faced off for the first time since their dramatic affair at the NSC Olimpiyskiy Stadium in Kyiv, when Gareth Bale fired Los Blancos to a stunning win with a brace off the bench. Three years on, their clash on Tuesday night ended with an identical scoreline, and Liverpool now have a mountain to climb in the second leg.
Brazilian starlet Vinicius was the star of the show at the Alfredo Di Stefano as he smashed in two goals on the night either side of a smart finish from Marco Asensio.
Zinedine Zidane's men earned a thoroughly deserved win as they were undisputedly the better team over 90 minutes. This was with the exception of a ten-minute spell in the second half, where Liverpool forward Mo Salah pulled one back with a powerful finish from inside the box.
This away goal — considering Liverpool's storied comebacks in Europe — could still prove to be a crucial turning point in the tie as Liverpool host Real Madrid next Wednesday. It has given the Reds some hope heading into the second leg after a poor performance at the home of the 13-time UCL champions.
On that note, here is a look at the five major talking points from the game.
#5 A clash of Liverpool and Real Madrid's second-string defences
Real Madrid and Liverpool have both been hit with some of the worst injury crises faced by European sides this season. The visitors were without starting central defenders Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez, who are out for the season, with Joel Matip also being sidelined.
Real Madrid were dealt a big blow last week when they were informed of Sergio Ramos' injury that will keep him out of the game. Raphael Varane tested positive for COVID a few hours before the game to make matters worse, ruling him out as well. This led to a clash between two pairs of second-string partnerships starting the game on Tuesday.
Liverpool's Nat Phillips and on-loan defender Ozan Kabak retained their places from their previous league outing, and their counterparts on the night were Nacho Fernandez and Eder Militao. The game's very complexion could have been different if Liverpool and, for that matter, even Real Madrid had their first-choice central defenders available despite winning 3-1.
Real Madrid exposed Kabak and Phillips' inexperience in at least two of their three goals. The first was down to a poor piece of judgement from Kabak, and not one Liverpool defender reacted in time to stop Luka Modric or block Vinicius for the third. Even the goal Real Madrid conceded was down to a lapse in concentration as Lucas Vazquez — Dani Carvajal and Alvaro Odriozola's deputy — played Mo Salah onside.
Ultimately, Real Madrid's backup centre-back pairing between Nacho and Militao emerged victorious on the night, with the latter having a stellar game.
#4 Jurgen Klopp's selection gamble backfired spectacularly
It is no secret that Liverpool are yet to witness what Thiago Alcantara is truly capable on a football pitch since his summer move. The seven-time Bundesliga champion and two-time UCL winner hasn't hit top gear for Liverpool after a handful of sub-par displays for Jurgen Klopp's side.
That being said, it came as a bit of a shock when fellow Bundesliga recruit Naby Keita was chosen to play alongside Fabinho Tavares and Gini Wijnaldum in the middle — and it was a decision that Jurgen Klopp lived to regret.
In his ill-fated 42-minute stay on the pitch, Keita registered a mere 26 touches of the ball, which was less than any of the six midfielders in the first half.
He added absolutely nothing to the Premier League champions in offence or in defence, be it a shot, key pass, through ball, or even a tackle. He was a mere passenger who was constantly run over by his rather brilliant Real Madrid counterparts.
Regardless of whether it was a ploy to take Blancos boss Zidane by surprise or due to what he saw in training, Klopp's decision backfired miserably. Keita was hooked just three minutes before half-time for Thiago, a move that perfectly summed up a very forgettable evening for the £55m man.