Real Madrid host Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League last 16 tie, holding a strong three-goal lead. Can Liverpool complete another astonishing UCL comeback?
The Quick Hits
- The Opta supercomputer predicts Real Madrid to follow up their first leg win with another victory.
- Real Madrid have a 42.5% chance of victory in this match, compared to Liverpool’s 34.2%.
- Liverpool are one of only four teams to have overcome a 3+ goal deficit after the first leg of a UEFA Champions League knockout tie.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool Preview
Real Madrid not only hold a three-goal advantage over Liverpool after the first leg, but they hold a psychological advantage over the Reds, having won six of their last seven UEFA Champions League meetings against them.
But one positive for Liverpool is that they have won at Real Madrid before. They are one of only four English teams to win away at the Spanish giants in European competition, along with Arsenal, Man City and Chelsea. The 1-0 win in Madrid in the UCL last 16 in February 2009 thanks to a Yossi Benayoun 82nd-minute goal set them on the way to a 5-0 aggregate win over the then LaLiga champions.
Real Madrid have progressed from 26 of their previous 27 European Cup/Champions League knockout ties when winning the first leg away from home, with the exception being defeat to Ajax at this stage in 2018-19 (2-1 away, 1-4 at home), so they’ll be looking to celebrate their 300th match in the UEFA Champions League with another progression in this tie. Liverpool can gain some confidence that they have achieved the seemingly impossible task of overcoming a three-goal first leg deficit in the UCL before. They are one only four sides to progress from a UCL tie having lost the first leg by three or more goals, beating Real’s rivals Barcelona 4-0 in the second leg of their semi-final tie at Anfield after losing the first leg 3-0 away.
Liverpool 2-5 Real Madrid – 21 February 2023 (UEFA Champions League)
Liverpool’s 5-2 defeat to Real Madrid saw them concede five goals in a European match at Anfield for the first time ever, despite leading 2-0 after 14 minutes. Carlo Ancelotti’s side came back with five goals, becoming the first team in UEFA Champions League history to come from two goals down and win by a three-goal margin.
It was just the fifth time that Jürgen Klopp has seen one of his sides concede five or more goals in a competitive home game, but the game started so well for the German boss – striker Darwin Núñez’s opener (3 minutes and 10 seconds) was Liverpool’s quickest-ever UCL goal scored at Anfield.
Mohamed Salah would add a second for the Reds in the 14th minute, with his 42nd European goal for the club, eclipsing Steven Gerrard’s previous club record of 41 European club goals for Liverpool.
Vinícius Júnior and Karim Benzema both helped themselves to braces, either side of an Éder Militão header. Vinícius Júnior became the youngest visiting player (22 years, 224 days) to score twice against Liverpool at Anfield in major European competition since Johan Cruyff in December 1966 for Ajax in the European Cup (19y 233d).
Benzema’s two goals took him to six in total against Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League, more than any other player.
Since defeating Liverpool in the first leg, Real Madrid have won just one of their four competitive matches; drawing the Madrid derby against Atlético, losing El Clasico to Barcelona in the Copa del Rey and drawing 0-0 with Real Betis before defeating Espanyol 3-1 at the weekend.
Real have conceded just 14 goals in their last 21 competitive home matches, and never more than once in a game during this run. The last time that they conceded more than once in a game at Santiago Bernabéu was in a 3-2 defeat to Chelsea on 12 April 2022.
Liverpool have lost more games (six) than they have won (five) in all competitions across 2023 so far, following their unexpected 1-0 defeat away at bottom of the league Bournemouth on Saturday.
The Reds’ away form has been poor in 2022-23 overall, with only six wins in 19 matches and losing more than half of those (10). They have already lost to Brentford, Brighton (twice), Wolves and Bournemouth on the road in 2023.
Real Madrid’s form in the UCL this season was enough to see them top Group F on the way to making it to the round of 16. Their four wins from six games (D1 L1) placed them above RB Leipzig, Shakhtar Donetsk and Celtic with 13 points, with their only group stage defeat coming on MD5 away in Leipzig (3-2). Overall, they are now on a four-game winning streak at home in the UCL and will be looking to go five in a row in the competition for the first time since September 2015 – October 2016 (eight wins in a row).
After losing their opening match of the 2022-23 UEFA Champions League campaign (4-1 vs Napoli), Liverpool won each of their last five group stage matches.
Despite finishing level on points with Serie A leaders Napoli in Group A (15 each), Liverpool ended in second place due to inferior head-to-head goal difference. They still qualified ahead of Ajax and Rangers to set up this last 16 tie with Real Madrid, however. The total non-penalty goals scored by Liverpool in the 2022-23 competition (18) is below that of only Bayern Munich (21) and Napoli (19).
Real Madrid: Karim Benzema
Name a better combination than Karim Benzema and the knockout stages of the Champions League.
The French striker comes alive when it matters most and is the master at magicking moments out of nothing. His consistency in high-leverage moments in remarkable. Benzema has scored 19 goals in his last 19 appearances in the UEFA Champions League knockout stages.
Ten of his 15 UCL goals last campaign came in the knockout stages on the way to Real Madrid lifting their 14th European Crown. Real Madrid’s number nine certainly likes playing against Liverpool, too. He’s the top scorer against the Reds in European Cup/Champions League history with six strikes, after grabbing two at Anfield in the first leg.
Liverpool: Darwin Núñez
If Liverpool are going to have any chance of pulling off a shock result in Madrid, they’re going to need to game to spiral into chaos. Enter Darwin Núñez.
The Uruguayan leads all UCL players for expected goals per 90 with a staggering 1.24, and only Napoli’s Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (5.2) averages more shot per 90 in the Champions League this season than Núñez’s 5.0.
The all-action forward has scored in each of his last four UEFA Champions League appearances and could become just the third Liverpool player to score in five in a row in the competition, after Mohamed Salah (six, active streak) and Steven Gerrard (five in 2008).
Real Madrid vs Liverpool Prediction
The Opta supercomputer expects Real Madrid to ease through to the quarter-finals of the 2022-23 UCL with another win against Liverpool in this match – they are rated at a 42.5% chance of winning on Wednesday night.
Already trailing by three goals after the first leg, it would take a near miracle for the Reds to overturn the deficit and qualify for the last eight, but it seems like they aren’t even expected to win the game on the night by our projections.
Despite being expected to advance to the next round, Real Madrid are only fourth favourites for the overall Champions League title this season with the Opta supercomputer (11.2%). They are behind Napoli (16.1%), Man City (18.5%) and Bayern Munich (33.7%), while they are ahead of Internazionale (5.1%), Chelsea (4.2%) and Milan (3.5%).
Liverpool’s 0.5% chance is above that of only Eintracht Frankfurt’s 0.1%.