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Champions League

Real Madrid – La Liga: How have Real Madrid and Liverpool changed since the 2018 Champions League final?

Real Madrid and Liverpool are set to go head-to-head for the first time since the Champions League final of 2018 in Kiev as the two sides meet in the quarter-finals this Tuesday.

Los Blancos ran out 3-1 winners in their last meeting with goals from Gareth Bale (2) and Karim Benzema as they lifted their third consecutive Champions League and 13th European Cup overall.

Three years have now passed and the two sides are ready to square up again, with Liverpool looking for revenge, but just how have the two sides changed in recent years?

Real Madrid without Ronaldo or Bale

The two most notable absentees from the 2018 Real Madrid side are Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale.

Bale turned in a man of the match performance in the 2018 final, scoring twice in 20 minutes after coming on as a substitute, but has since fallen majorly out of favour in the Spanish capital and is currently on loan at Tottenham Hotspur.

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Club legend and all-time top scorer Ronaldo moved to Juventus after that last Champions League win at Los Blancos and, not surprisingly, they have struggled to replace his incredible talent since.

Defensively Real Madrid will look quite different this time round with Thibaut Courtois now between the sticks instead of Kaylor Navas and Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos both set to miss the game through injury.

Liverpool’s midfield changes and defensive absentees

The dynamic of Liverpool’s midfield has changed quite drastically since the 2018 final, with the arrival of Thiago Alcantara from Bayern Munich last summer as well as Fabinho from Monaco the summer before.

With Thiago now able to play in a more advanced role in the midfield, with the added security of Fabinho playing the holding role rather than as a makeshift central defender, he is now free to show the spectacular range of passing and movement that he was showing during his time in Germany.

Long-term injuries to both Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez are obviously a blow to Jurgen Klopp’s side, but having Fabinho sitting in front of the young defensive partnership of Nathaniel Phillips and Ozan Kabak gives them an easy outlet out of defence.

Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson will be between the sticks for this one also, and Liverpool supporters will be confident of a more assured performance from him than the one they got from the unfortunate Loris Karius three years ago who gifted Madrid two vital goals.

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No sequel to Ramos vs Salah conflict

The 2018 final saw the infamous incident in which Sergio Ramos pulled Mohamed Salah to the ground in the first half, causing an injury to the Egyptian star who ended up leaving the field in tears.

Yet injury rules the Real Madrid skipper out of the tie, meaning there will be no awkward reunion between the pair.

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