The Spanish giants will host the first leg of the fixture against Jurgen Klopp’s side on Tuesday, with an eye on reaching the semi-finals of the competition.
This is a repeat of the 2019 Champions League final, where Real Madrid triumphed 3-1 following a controversial injury to Mohamed Salah caused by a Sergio Ramos challenge.
While Liverpool and Real Madrid have struggled this season, they’ve both returned to form at the right time. The winner of this fixture should certainly be rated among the favourites to lift this year’s trophy.
A battle of two under-fire managers
Liverpool’s dip in form saw Jurgen Klopp come under intense pressure, with a few supporters even calling for his sacking. While the German has managed to turn things around in recent weeks, it has not erased the underwhelming season that the Reds have endured.
In his pre-match press conference, the Liverpool boss revealed that he was eager to prove to the world that his team still has that X factor. He said, as quoted by the Guardian:
“I’m not so determined to show the world how good we are or whatever. I want to show our fans that we are still fighting.”
“That is much more important to me. If people think because we don’t play a good season I am a worse manager then I don’t like that but I don’t care to be honest. We had some problems that you know about, but it’s not about that.”
Zinedine Zidane is in a similar situation. Real Madrid have improved tremendously in recent months, but their poor start to the season means they could end the season without any silverware. This means Los Blancos have no excuse but to go all out against Liverpool.
The Frenchman believes that Real Madrid have sometimes been underestimated this season and wants to serve humble pie to the critics.
Zidane noted (as quoted by Marca):
"In the end, we deserve trust. What we can focus on is the day to day job. This team never gives up on anything,”
The UCL is Real Madrid and Liverpool's most realistic chance of winning a trophy
Pre-match bites from both managers indicate that the game will be tight. This is because the Champions League is now the only realistic opportunity for either side to win a trophy.
Liverpool are out of the Premier League race and are even struggling to break into the top four. The Reds have also been eliminated from the FA Cup and the Carabao Cup.
Similarly, Real Madrid are third in La Liga, with Atletico Madrid and Barcelona looking more likely to challenge for the title. They are also out of the Copa del Rey.
That leaves Real Madrid and Liverpool with everything to play for in the Champions League.
Tuesday’s game will not just be about European royalty; it will also be about who wants it more in a season where either side could go trophyless.