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Champions League

Real Madrid | Champions League: Courtois, Nacho, Militao and Valverde: Real Madrid’s Anfield heroes

Liverpool piled the pressure on Real Madrid’s defence from the off at Anfield, but Los Blancos managed to hold out, keep a clean sheet and clinch qualification to the Champions League semi-finals, mainly due to extraordinary performances of Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao, Nacho Fernandez and Fede Valverde.

The Reds wasted two big chances to take an early lead, with Courtois denying Mohamed Salah and James Milner.

Liverpool hit the ground running in the second half too, but Roberto Firmino could not beat the Belgian goalkeeper, who denied Salah again in stoppage time.

Courtois was solid in the air and his presence in goal demoralised Liverpool’s fearful attacking triumvirate throughout the 90 minutes.

Nacho and Militao: The titans at the back

Despite both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane missing out, Nacho and Militao were extraordinary in defence and managed to cover for their defensive teammates.

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Since Nacho has been considered by Zinedine Zidane as Real Madrid‘s third-choice centre-back, after Ramos and Varane, the Spaniard has been solid whenever he has been given the nod.

At Anfield, he produced one of his finest performances this season and sent message to Spain boss Luis Enrique ahead of this summer’s European Championship.

The 50 million euro signing

Militao‘s case is different, as his 50 million euro move from Porto has weighed heavily on him. However, Zidane gave him the opportunity to feature in three crucial games against Liverpool and Barcelona, and the Brazilian centre-back has paid back his coach’s confidence.

In the Liverpool tie, Militao dominated in the air and helped Real Madrid build out from the back.

Valverde at right-back

“This was this afternoon,” wrote Valverde‘s partner, Mina Bonino, on social media after the game at Anfield, accompanied by a photo of the midfielder’s swollen ankle.

“I didn’t want to put anything up until the game had finished and I’m sure you’ll call me out for posting it after, but I have to do it anyway because it’s your effort and no one has gifted you anything.

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“Day after day, you’ve been pushing yourself to the limit and today you’ve done it more than ever. We’re proud of you.”

There is no better way to explain what Valverde went through at Anfield. He suffered a lot but, once again, he showed his character and dedication to the team.

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