Liverpool get back to work in the Champions League on Tuesday night. They have a date with a familiar opponent, Real Madrid, at Anfield at 20:00 GMT. As we all know, this is the first meeting between the two teams that participated in last year's controversial Champions League final.
On that wild night in May at Paris' Stade de France, Real Madrid beat Liverpool 1-0. This is the Reds' latest chance at revenge against El Galactico. Real are also responsible for Liverpool exiting the Champions League in 2021 and 2018. If you include the two group stage losses in 2014/15, Liverpool haven't bested Real Madrid since 2009.
Liverpool come into the match on the heels of a rousing 2-0 win in Newcastle on Saturday afternoon. The Reds will hope to keep the momentum going against Real but they might have to do it without Darwin Núñez. The striker remains a question mark after sustaining an injury on Saturday.
Talking Points for the Champions League Knock-Out Round
For Liverpool fans, it's hard not to think about the 2022 Champions League final in Paris last May. Not only because the Reds let the opportunity for another European trophy slip through their hands, but the controversy that surrounded the match.
On that night, there were confrontations between Liverpool supporters and French authorities outside of the Stade de France. In the time since, Liverpool fans have been exonerated for any wrongdoing. In fact, recent reports have put the blame for the problems squarely at the feet of UEFA and the French authorities.
As for tomorrow's match, the most significant talking point surrounding Liverpool is the health of Darwin Núñez. The Reds' striker is dealing with a shoulder injury sustained against Newcastle. Klopp was purposefully vague in his assessment of Núñez. However, he did participate in training yesterday.
Real Madrid have their own injury concerns. Their talismanic striker, Karim Benzema has been battling injuries all season and missed their most recent match against Osasuna in La Liga on Saturday.
The Champions League Round of 16 is the first knock-out round of the tournament. Today's match is the first leg of a two-leg series, with the return match being in Madrid on the 15th of March. Whoever scores the most goals in the two games wins.
Keepin' it Real
Also in his press conference, Jurgen Klopp praised Real Madrid as being the best team in Europe. Real Madrid, or Los Galácticos to their fans, are led by Carlo Ancelloti, who might be best remembered as Everton's last decent manager. He left Everton in 2021 to make his return to Real.
Real are currently in 2nd place in La Liga, 8 points behind their eternal rivals, Barcelona. While Benzema is still a force, their best player is now arguably Vinicius Junior. Vinicius Jr. is tied with Benzema for goals with 16 in all competitions. The 22-year old Brazilian is also responsible for the lone goal in the 2022 Champions League Final.
LFC Globe Verdict
This is going to be the match of the year. Forget the Premier League, we aren't going to win it. The Reds need to put everything they have into trying to win the Champions League. Today's match is critical if they are going to do that.
Making the most of the home field advantage in the first leg is important to knock out Real for the first time since 2009. If Liverpool win, and they can get a significant goal advantage, before the second leg in Madrid, they will do just that.
Klopp is 100% right that while last May's disappointment and anger are still relevant, it is time to move on. Let's hope the Anfield faithful channel all that energy into helping the Reds get a big win tonight.