Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Björn Kuipers (NED)
Date & Time – Wednesday, April 14th 2021 @ 20:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 10/11, Draw 29/10, Real Madrid 13/5
While we all know better than to ever completely write Liverpool off, it’s hard to see how The Reds can defy the odds again without that famous Anfield support behind them. A very poor first-half performance cost Liverpool dearly in the first leg in Madrid last week. The damage suffered in losing 3-1 in Spain may be too great to repair this Wednesday night.
Jürgen Klopp’s Mighty Redmen are down but not yet out. Maybe they can produce another memorable European night, albeit at an empty Anfield.FORM
Liverpool have won four of their last five games in all competitions. The only defeat was in the first leg of this tie in Madrid last week.
The Reds have played themselves back into contention for a top-four finish in the Premier League. They left it late at the weekend, needing an injury-time goal from Trent Alexander-Arnold to beat Aston Villa 2-1 at home.
The win against Villa also ended a six-game losing streak at Anfield.
Real Madrid Form
Real Madrid are unbeaten in 13 games. They have not lost since Levante beat them 2-1 in LaLiga at the end of January. Zinedine Zidane’s side is currently on a six-game winning run as well.
At the weekend, Real Madrid won El Clásico, beating Barcelona 2-1 thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos. That win saw them leapfrog Barcelona into second place in the Spanish top flight.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Joël Matip, Jordan Henderson, and Divock Origi.
Sadio Mané was left out of the starting lineup for The Reds’ 2-1 win against Aston Villa on Saturday. The Senegal international has certainly been out of form for a while now. With Mohamed Salah a nailed-on starter for almost every game, Jürgen Klopp needs to pick two from Roberto Firmino, Diogo Jota, and Mané. I think Firmino will get the nod on Wednesday as it was exactly his kind of pressing that was missing in the first leg with Toni Kroos afforded too much space in his role at the base of Real Madrid’s midfield. Jota is my other tip to start, meaning Mané could be on the bench for the second consecutive game.
Nat Phillips’ limitations were exposed in Madrid. It’s unfair to lump too much blame on the lad, however. He was never meant to be a first-choice centre-back in a Champions League quarter-final. He did his best, as he has done all season and as he will continue to do until the summer.
Ozan Kabak should partner Phillips at the heart of Liverpool’s back four with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson on the flanks.
In midfield, I think Klopp will opt for Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and Thiago Alcântara.
Real Madrid Team News
Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, and Raphaël Varane are out for Real Madrid.
Dani Carvajal will face a late fitness test and could be rushed back into the squad for this one after their current right-back, Lucas Vázquez, suffered a serious knee injury against Barcelona on Saturday night. It has since been confirmed that Vázquez is out for the remainder of this season.
Éder Militão should start alongside Nacho in central defence again due to the absence of both Ramos and Varane.
Álvaro Odriozola is likely to come into the starting eleven at right-back for the injured Vázquez.
Zidane will probably stick with his front trio of Marco Asensio, Karim Benzema, and Vinícius Júnior.
Toni Kroos ran the show from midfield in the first leg. He will need to be dealt with and given far less time on the ball if Liverpool are to have any joy in the second leg.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Jota
Real Madrid XI (4-3-3) – Courtois; Odriozola, Militão, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Kasemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, JúniorWHEN THEY LAST MET
Real Madrid won the first leg 3-1 last week with goals from Vinícius Júnior (x2) and Marco Asensio. Mohamed Salah scored Liverpool’s away goal.
The sides’ last meeting at Anfield was in October 2014 when goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema (x2) gave the visitors a comfortable 3-0 win.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 1 – 2 REAL MADRID
I’d love to be predicting another wonderful comeback and Liverpool’s progression to the semi-finals. I hope I’m very, very wrong but I believe Real Madrid could pick us off on the counter-attack this week with more of Toni Kroos’ arrow-like long passes.
Liverpool’s Champions League qualification hopes received a huge boost after a late 2-1 victory over Aston Villa at Anfield.
The Reds trailed 1-0 to an Ollie Watkins goal at halftime, but rallied through a Mohamed Salah goal, and then, with time running out, Alexander Arnold sealed the three points with time running out with a beautiful strike.
More VAR controversy ensued when Roberto Firmino’s perfectly legitimate goal was chalked off when Diogo Jota was adjudged as offside in the buildup. Nevertheless, the hosts showed mental resolve to turn the game around and win their first home game in six fixtures.
Liverpool started the game with a vigour that has been absent in recent home games and they looked to apply with pace and ambition early on.
This approach should have lead to a goal early when Jota’s pass was allowed to slip through the attention of Tyrone Mings and found its way through to Salah. With only Emi Martinez to beat, the Egyptian miscued his finish and dragged the ball wide when he ought to have scored.
Looking enterprising, with Fabinho providing the platform for others to bomb forward, the Reds continued to probe but their efforts were undone by a raft of poor touches when the ball approached the box with all three of Salah, Jota and Firmino — who, to his credit, was largely good — guilty.
Villa were largely second best, but through Watkins, Bertrand Traore and Trezeguet they had pace on the counter and it was through this method that they took the lead against the run of play.
A long ball wasn’t adequately cleared by Liverpool and Watkins drove a low strike at Alisson and into the net. The Brazilian really should have saved the effort, given it was straight at him, but the away team took the lead.
The Reds looked to make amends immediately and they thought they had an equalizer for Alexander Arnold’s long ball released Jota and the Portuguese’s cross acted like a hot potato in the box before falling to Firmino, whose shot hit the roof of the net. VAR ruled the goal out — mystifyingly — and the home team went into the break trailing.
Liverpool started the second half with an authority and they had their rewards twelve minutes after the interval. Robertson and Jota combined well down the left flank and the Scot skipped past the impressive Esri Konsa and fired a shot at Martinez. The Argentinian could only parry the effort into the path of Salah and the number 11 headed into an empty net.
Villa, to their credit, went in search of a winner and made an attacking change when they withdrew Marvelous Nakamba — a defensive midfielder — for Ross Barkley, a player with attacking intent. Their bravery almost paid dividends when Trezequet sublimely bent an outside of the foot shot off the post with Alisson beaten all ends up.
Jurgen Klopp was also proactive with his changes and changed shape when he brought Thiago on for the ineffectual Georginio Wijnaldum and Xherdan Shaqiri on for Ozan Kabak with Fabinho dropping to centre half.
With a greater balance in their 4231 shape, Liverpool went hell for leather in search of a goal and their persistence eventually paid off. Shaqiri’s wonderful cross was met by Thiago and the Spaniard’s shot was brilliantly saved by Martinez. The Reds retrieved the rebound and worked the ball to the left hand side, where Alexander Arnold was stationed after taking a corner. Taking the ball, the academy graduate beautifully whipped a shot past into the right hand corner. It was a moment that could be huge in the context of the season.
Birthday boy Sadio Mane was also introduced and he should have sealed the three points when Shaqiri’s through ball sent him racing through on goal, but his shot was weak and he should have squared to Jota for number three. It didn’t matte in the end, though, and the hosts held on.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Milner, Wijnaldum; Jota, Firmino, Salah.
Replacements: Mane for Firmino, Thiago for Wijnaldum, Shaqiri for Kabak.
Subs not used: Adrian, Davies, Tsimikas, Williams, Keita, Oxlade Chamberlain
Venue – Anfield, Liverpool
Referee – Paul Tierney
Date & Time – Saturday, April 10th @ 15:00
Current Odds – Liverpool 11/20, Draw 16/5, Aston Villa 5/1
Liverpool are battling to keep their season alive these days. A slight upturn in form has seen hopes of a top-four finish rekindled at Anfield. On Tuesday night, The Reds’ Champions League dreams took a blow to the throat in Madrid, however. Now, Jürgen Klopp and his men must put that out of their minds until Saturday evening. The next five days are going to be so important in deciding whether any ‘success’ can come from Liverpool’s injury-ravaged 2020/21 campaign.FORM
Liverpool have lost their last six league games at Anfield. It’s the first time such a poor run of home form has occurred in the club’s history. Things have looked better in recent weeks with three wins from four, all on the road. Tuesday night’s 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid may have knocked a lot of the wind out of Liverpool’s sails for now, though.
A top-four finish is within Liverpool’s reach as they currently just three shots behind West Ham in fourth. A win against this much-improved Villa side – as we know since they mauled us 7-2 in October – is needed to keep the pressure on for now.
Aston Villa Form
Aston Villa have won just once in their last five games and twice out of their last eight. They did beat basement boys Fulham 3-1 last time out thanks to late goals from Trézéguet (x2) and Ollie Watkins.
Dean Smith’s team has a decent away record this season, losing five of their 15 fixtures on the road.TEAM NEWS
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are without Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, Jordan Henderson, Divock Origi, and Caoimhin Kelleher.
Jürgen Klopp saw his inexperienced centre-back pairing get taken apart in Madrid on Tuesday. However, Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak must still be Klopp’s first-choice duo at the back. Hopefully, he doesn’t opt to move Fabinho back into defence in place of one of them.
I think with four days between the Villa game and the Real Madrid return leg, Klopp won’t opt to ‘rest’ anybody. I do feel that Sadio Mané’s starting place could be under threat, though. Mané has struggled to hit any kind of form in recent weeks so Klopp could try a front trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, and Diogo Jota.
Aston Villa Team News
Aston Villa will still be missing striker Wesley while club captain Jack Grealish will face a late fitness test. It is generally felt, however, that this game may have come just too soon for Grealish.
Dean Smith has favoured a 4-2-3-1 formation for most of this season and it has worked very well for Villa. I expect to see a similar shape from the visitors on Saturday.
Ollie Watkins should lead the line in attack and he will be confident of causing The Reds’ makeshift centre-back pairing plenty of problems. He did, after all, bang in a hat-trick against Liverpool’s first-choice pairing of Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk in October.
With Grealish probably not available, John McGinn will continue in a more advanced midfield role with Bertrand Traoré and Trézéguet on the flanks.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Jota
Aston Villa XI (4-2-3-1) – Martínez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; Luiz, Sanson; Traoré, McGinn, Trézéguet; WatkinsWHEN THEY LAST MET
Do we really have to talk about it? Yes, Aston Villa absolutely demolished Liverpool 7-2 when the sides last met back in early October. Amazingly, it was before any of Liverpool’s major injury blows so Jürgen Klopp had a full-strength starting eleven that day. Mohamed Salah netted our two goals that day. Villa’s scorers were Ollie Watkins (x3), John McGinn, Ross Barkley, and Jack Grealish (x2).
Liverpool did win 4-1 at Villa Park in the FA Cup in January but it was against Aston Villa’s youth players as a result of a COVID outbreak within the senior squad.
The last clash at Anfield was last season when Liverpool won 2-0 thanks to second-half goals from Sadio Mané and Curtis Jones.PREDICTION
LIVERPOOL 1 – 1 ASTON VILLA
Saturday won’t be easy. In fact, it will probably be one of our toughest remaining Premier League games of the season. Unfortunately, due to our form at Anfield and the setback we suffered in Madrid during the week, I can’t see Liverpool taking all three points against Aston Villa.
Liverpool’s Champions League hopes are on a knife-edge after a 3-1 defeat away to Real Madrid.
The hosts took a 2-0 lead half-time through goals from Vinicius Junior and Marco Asensio in a dominant 45-minute display. The Reds improved in the second period and half the deficit to 2-1 after Mohamed Salah scored, but any hopes of a comeback were quashed when Vinicius completed his brace with a low shot past Alisson.
Overall, the visitors — who would have been confident of a result after learning that Raphael Varane was ruled out of the game with a positive COVID test — can be happy with only losing by two goals. Their performance was sloppy, one-paced, and unthreatening.
The warning signs were there early doors and Madrid bore their teeth early on and foreshadowed their game plan when Toni Kroos — the architect of much of the Spaniards dangerous attacks — launched a long pass into the path of Vinicius. The Brazilian’s first touch was sublime and he sprinted easily past Nat Phillips. The move fizzled out, but it was indication of the threat the 13 times winners posed.
Madrid, with Casemiro, Kroos, and Luka Modric prominent, were dominating the flow of the game and their approach eventually bore goalscoring fruit near the half-hour mark.
Kroos was undeterred in the middle of the park and, unpressured, the German clipped a ball into the path of Vinicius. The Brazilian ran between Trent Alexander Arnold and Phillips and his sublime first touch allowed him the chance to slide the ball past his compatriot Alisson.
With their tails up, the hosts continued to press forward for more goals. Their cause was helped, though, when Alexander Arnold badly miscued a header back towards Alisson and Asensio ghosted in and clipped the ball past Alisson to double the away team’s deficit at 2-0.
Incensed by their meek first-half performance — Liverpool failed to have a shot in the entirety of the first half — Jurgen Klopp hooked Naby Keita just before the halftime whistle with Thiago Alcantara entering the fray in place of the Guinean.
The second half started much better from the Reds’ perspective, best personified by Georginio Wijnaldum. The Dutchman was abject in the first half, but he took the initiative to start a move that ended up in Salah scoring. The number 5 powerfully slalomed through midfield and the ball eventually fell to Diogo Jota in the box. The Portugal international’s effort on goal was blocked, but the shot trickled its way into the path of Salah and the Egyptian hammered the past off the underside of the bar and in.
Liverpool were clearly playing with more confidence and they applied pressure to Madrid, with Thiago key to controlling the tempo and Alexander Arnold playing more attacking verve. Their mini-revival was short-lived, however, and the home team killed the contest on the night with a cleverly worked third.
A quick throw found Modric and the Croatian cleanly skipped past Fabinho before directing a low cross towards Vinicius. With Alisson unsighted, the youngster curled the ball into the bottom right-hand corner and into the net.
Madrid were then content to sit in and, despite dominating the ball in the closing stages, Liverpool couldn’t prize them open and take the advantage to Anfield in next week’s second leg.
Liverpool team: Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Keita; Salah, Jota, Mane.
Replacements: Shaqiri for Kabak, Thiago for Keita, Firmino for Jota.
Venue – Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, Madrid
Referee – Felix Brych (GER)
Date & Time – Tuesday, April 6th 2021 @ 20:00
Current Odds – Real Madrid 31/20, Draw 5/2, Liverpool 13/8
Liverpool’s season could be heading for a hugely exciting climax. Jürgen Klopp’s Mighty Redmen have played their way back into a fight for a top-four finish in the Premier League as well as looking confident in the Champions League.
This week, The Reds are in Spain to face LaLiga giants Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final clash. After a strong showing at Arsenal on Saturday, Liverpool will not be afraid of anyone, and rightly so.FORM
Real Madrid Form
Real Madrid have lost just once in their last 13 games in all competitions. Zinedine Zidane’s side is just three points behind Atletico Madrid at the top of LaLiga, however, their city rivals do have a game in hand to play.
Los Blancos are on a four-game winning streak. They beat Eibar 2-0 on Saturday thanks to goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema.
Benzema has 18 LaLiga goals and 5 Champions League goals in this campaign so far. The former France international is the home team’s biggest threat by far.
Liverpool put in their best performance of 2021 so far when they beat Arsenal 3-0 at the Emirates on Saturday night. That was their third straight victory in all competitions and they have not conceded a goal in any of those games.
Jürgen Klopp’s men have lost six-in-a-row at Anfield so they may be glad this first leg is in Madrid. Hopefully, they will be back to their best at Anfield in time for the second leg.TEAM NEWS
Real Madrid Team News
Real Madrid will be without Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Daniel Carvajal, and Federico Valverde through injury.
Zinedine Zidane is likely to stick with his favoured 4-3-3 formation and the very experienced midfield trio of Luka Modric, Casemiro, and Toni Kroos.
Karim Benzema will provide the greatest threat, spearheading the home team’s attack with the in-form Marco Asensio also bound to cause problems aplenty for the Liverpool back four.
With Sergio Ramos out injured, Nacho will probably partner Raphael Varane at the heart of Real Madrid’s back four. Lucas Vázquez will slot in at right-back as Dani Carvajal is also missing for the hosts.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool’s injury list at the moment includes Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Joël Matip, Jordan Henderson, Caoimhin Kelleher and Divock Origi.
Thankfully, Jürgen Klopp seems to have discovered a decent centre-back partnership in Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak. However, Tuesday in Madrid will be, by far, the biggest test these two will have faced thus far.
In midfield, Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and Thiago Alcântara should start with Fabinho’s presence back in the ‘6’ role providing much-needed stability to The Reds’ midfield as well as excellent defensive cover just in front of the young centre-halves. There really is no one else in the world better at what Fabinho does.
I think Bobby Firmino could be starting again, despite Diogo Jota’s super-sub appearance against Arsenal on Saturday. Firmino may be used to harass and harry the Real Madrid defence for the first hour before Jota is then unleashed later in the game.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Real Madrid XI (4-3-3) – Courtois; Vázquez, Varane, Nacho, Mendy; Modric, Kasemiro, Kroos; Asensio, Benzema, Júnior
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool and Real Madrid have met six times in the European Cup/Champions League over the years. Each team has won three games each overall with The Reds taking the first three and Real Madrid winning the most recent fixtures.
The last clash was the 3-1 victory for Real Madrid in the final in Kyiv in 2018. Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale (x2) scored for Zinedine Zidane’s side that night with Sadio Mané nabbing Liverpool’s goal.
Liverpool’s most recent visit to the Santiago Bernabéu saw Real Madrid beat Brendan Rodgers’ Reds 1-0 thanks to a goal from Benzema. Tuesday’s game, however, will be at Real Madrid’s second ground, the Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, due to ongoing works at the Bernabéu.
One point of note is that Benzema has scored four goals in his last three games against Liverpool.PREDICTION
REAL MADRID 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool have been in fine form away from Anfield, winning 7 of their last 8 games on the road. Despite the injury problems Jürgen Klopp has to contend with, I still believe The Reds are strong enough to win this fixture and put themselves in the driving seat to progress to the semi-finals.
Venue – Emirates Stadium, London
Referee – Martin Atkinson
Date & Time – Saturday, April 3rd @ 19:00
Current Odds – Arsenal 21/10, Draw 5/2, Liverpool 6/5
Just weeks ago, many of us thought this season was going to have to be considered a ‘non-event’ by Liverpool Football Club. However, after progressing in the Champions League and clawing back some points domestically, there appears to be a top-four place to play for, as well as a huge clash with Real Madrid in Europe’s premier competition. A win at Arsenal on Saturday would be a fantastic boost in The Reds’ push for a top-four finish. It would also be the perfect preparation for facing LaLiga giants Real Madrid on Tuesday.
Over to you, Reds…FORM
Arsenal have won five of their last 10 games in all competitions. Mikel Arteta’s side just about advanced to the next round of the Europa League despite losing 1-0 at home to Olympiacos.
Last time out, The Gunners fought back to earn a 3-3 draw after being three goals down in the first half away to West Ham United.
Arteta’s team is 9th in the Premier League at the moment, four points behind Liverpool.
Liverpool won their last two games – against RB Leipzig and Wolves – but are still on a six-game losing streak at Anfield (the RB Leipzig ‘home’ leg was in Budapest). They may well be glad they are away to Arsenal on Saturday night.
With Diogo Jota back from injury and a potentially decent centre-back pairing of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak, as well as the return of Fabinho to midfield, Liverpool have looked far better in their last two games.
That needs to continue, however, as they won’t be seeing Joe Gomez, Jordan Henderson, Joël Matip, or Virgil van Dijk returning this season.TEAM NEWS
Arsenal Team News
Willian and Bukayo Saka are the only Arsenal players with any injury problems. Both of them are expected to be fit to make the squad this weekend, however.
Mikel Arteta generally favours a 4-2-3-1 formation for his team. Thomas Partey and Granit Xhaka will be the pairing at the base of Arsenal’s midfield.
New signing, Martin Ødegaard, will be tasked with providing from midfield for the danger men, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette.
Liverpool Team News
Liverpool are currently without Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, and Joël Matip.
Divock Origi, Roberto Firmino, and Caoimhin Kelleher will face late fitness tests to determine if they are available for selection for this game.
Jürgen Klopp is likely to stick with the central-defensive partnership of Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak for this one. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson will start in their usual places on each flank.
In midfield, it will probably be Fabinho, Gini Wijnaldum, and Thiago Alcântara.
With Firmino only on his way back from injury, it should be Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, and Sadio Mané in attack. With the exceptional form of Jota, both with Liverpool and Portugal, since his return, Klopp may well have kept him in the starting lineup ahead of Firmino anyway.PREDICTED LINEUPS
Arsenal XI (4-2-3-1) – Leno; Soares, Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Partey, Xhaka; Saka, Ødegaard, Aubameyang; Lacazette
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Thiago; Jota, Salah, ManéWHEN THEY LAST MET
Liverpool have won just one of their last four meetings with Arsenal in all competitions.
That victory came at Anfield earlier this season when goals from Sadio Mané, Andy Robertson, and Diogo Jota gave The Reds a 3-1 win after Alexandre Lacazette had put Arsenal ahead.
Last season, The Gunners won 2-1 at the Emirates shortly after Liverpool had clinched the league title off Manchester City. Mané scored first that day but Lacazette and Reiss Nelson replied for Arsenal to take the points.PREDICTION
ARSENAL 1 – 2 LIVERPOOL
Liverpool are beginning to look more like themselves, despite the existing injury issues, with each passing win. Consecutive victories over RB Leipzig and Wolves will have restored more confidence and belief within Jürgen Klopp’s first-team squad. With Diogo Jota and Mohamed Salah in fine goalscoring form, I fancy Liverpool to take all three points from this one against a largely inconsistent Gunners side.