Rafa Benitez believes whichever team is allowed to dictate the tempo will come out on top in Liverpool’s clash with Real Madrid tonight.
The Reds travel to the Spanish capital for the first-leg of their last eight Champions League tie.
This will be a first meeting between the pair since their Final showdown in 2018, which saw Madrid run out as 3-1 winners.
Liverpool, as is often the case, will look to enforce their intense style, while Los Blancos are more content to slow the game down and retain possession.
The two sides have very differing styles, but Benitez has backed whoever controls the pace to win the game.
“I think Liverpool will try to do what they do best – to push up as much as they can,” he told Marca.
“If Real Madrid can have the ball, Liverpool will be quick to counterattack. It’s what they did against RB Leipzig in both games, and it brought success.
“Liverpool will try to make it fast, but Madrid will want to keep the ball. The team who best impose their rhythm will have success.”
Zinedine Zidane’s side have not lost in their last 11 games and have bags of experience in this competition.
Following their hat-trick of wins they were dumped out in the last 16 in successive years against Ajax and Manchester City respectively.
As has been the case throughout the season, the match will be played behind closed doors.
It means Liverpool will return to Anfield next week for the second-leg without any fans to cheer them on.
The Kop has witnessed some historic European nights and their absence will certainly give Madrid a lift.
“I think Real Madrid,” Benitez said when asked who will prefer the lack of fans.
“Anfield’s atmosphere has given Liverpool a lot, and more so in Europe. The famous 4-0 was an example of this.”
It was Benitez who masterminded the Reds’ 4-0 win over Madrid in 2009 which sealed a 5-0 aggregate triumph.
Los Blancos have won their three matches since that night but go into tonight’s match as slight underdogs.
They will be without Sergio Ramos while Liverpool continue to be miss Jordan Henderson in midfield.