The draw for the 2021 UEFA Champions League quarter-finals threw up some classic ties. And arguably the most eye-catching of the lot was a repeat of the competition’s 2018 final, between Real Madrid and Liverpool. Unlike that season, both sides come into this encounter as reigning league winners in their respective countries, but have the squads changed considerably since that night in Kiev? We have a look…
Real Madrid vs Liverpool: team changes
On Tuesday 6 April 2021, Zinedine Zidane and Jürgen Klopp come head-to-head once again, but this time there is no silverware at stake, not immediately at least. Instead, the two-legged tie will decide who goes on to meet either Chelsea or Porto in the semi-finals, which they will then hope sees them into a Champions League final in Istanbul.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool news:
As we all remember well, the final of 2018 saw Los Blancos overcome the Premier League side, one that was growing in stature under their charismatic German coach, and there were a number of narratives that followed it. For starters, Gareth Bale hinted in spectacular fashion that he was far from finished – even if Zidane remained unconvinced thereafter. Loris Karius also took the spectacular approach to demonstrating his worth to the manager, ushering in then record-signing Alisson Becker to Anfield. Another memorable moment that seemed to have a significant impact on the outcome of the game was that challenge from Sergio Ramos on Mohamed Salah.
So, with almost three years gone since Madrid lifted their unrivalled 13th European Cup, we may expect both teams to look considerably different come this clash. But there will actually be many familiar faces coming up against each other again, and there would have been more had injuries not got in the way.
Real Madrid vs Liverpool: 2018 UCL final teams
Real Madrid: Navas, Marcelo, Ramos, Varane, Carvajal, Kroos, Casemiro, Modric, Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
Liverpool: Karius, Robertson, Van Dijk, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Milner, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Mané, Firmino, Salah
(Graphic by SofaScore)
Real Madrid vs Liverpool: 2021 UCL quarter-final teams
Had Ramos and Carvajal not been confirmed missing through injury Zidane could have potentially called upon the same starting XI less Cristiano Ronaldo (now at Juventus) and Keylor Navas (PSG’s current stopper). in reality however, as well as those four enforced changes, the Frenchman will also likely leave out a couple of others, namely Marcelo and Isco.
The virtually untouchable midfield of Kroos-Casemiro-Modric should start and Karim Benzema will be expected to fill the Reds’ net whenever handed a chance. With no Eden Hazard to call on, Marco Asensio and Vinicius should get the nod for some creative support.
(Graphic by SofaScore)
It’s a similar picture for Klopp, although with one marked difference. Like Zidane, the German has seen only two of his starting XI from 2018 sold to another team. But unlike the highly-regarded Navas and almost peerless Cristiano, Liverpool were purposeful in their transfers of Karius and Lovren.
Alisson will take his place in goal but it is injuries that will force Klopp into more changes than he would have done otherwise. With no Van Dijk (nor second and third choice centre-backs, Gomez and Matip), the newly formed partnership of Ozan Kabak and Nathaniel Phillips will almost certainly be asked to continue their gelling process. Captain Henderson will be a loss but the excellent Fabinho will take his place in the middle of the park, most likely alongside Thiago and one of Wijnaldum, Keita, Milner or the impressive young Curtis Jones if his gaffer thinks he can add an element of surprise to the line-up.
So, plenty at stake, and numerous players being reunited. The outcome at the end of the 90 minutes is not as decisive as the last time they met…but it could go a long way to defining who takes a step closer to yet another European final.