If Sergio Ramos had been fit, there could have been a bit of venom going into this encounter but Ramos is out, which ensures that the four duels that could determine the winner do not include Ramos.
These four duels will largely determine the team that will come out on top in Tuesday’s first leg quarter-final of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
Casemiro v Fabinho
These two Brazilians are very important for their teams, and Liverpool’s form has turned for the better since Klopp returned Fabinho to the base of Liverpool’s midfield, especially with Jordan Henderson out indefinitely.
Even though Fabinho has played fewer minutes than Casemiro, he has made more successful tackles; 12-8, and made more clearances-24-1. These stats show the tigerish nature of winning back the ball by Fabinho, which was missing for so long when he was drafted to cover in defense, though Casemiro has a better eye for goal than his counterpart.
Karim Benzema v Nathaniel Phillips
Liverpool may continue to feature Phillips and Ozan Kabak as a central defensive pairing having gone three games without conceding any goal, but on Tuesday they will be up against a supreme forward in Benzema, who has already scored 25 goals in 32 matches in all competitions.
Benzema has become the talisman for Zidane’s team in the face of multiple injuries to key men like Ramos and Hazard.
Lucas Vasquez v Sadio Mane
With the continued absence of Daniel Carvajal, Vasquez continues in the right-back spot and he will have to have all his wits around him in duels with Mane. We know Mane for being strong and flexible on the ball and will sometimes drift to open up the flank for the marauding Andy Robertson.
Vasquez will need to be disciplined and also need the help of Luka Modric and Marco Asensio to limit the havoc posed by the Senegalese.
Nacho v Diogo Jota
Nacho will continue deputising for the injured Sergio Ramos and he will try to negate the efficiency of Jota, who has scored 12 times in his first 23 matches for Liverpool in all competitions.
Jota’s runs into the box and the ambidextrous nature of his finishing makes him a wily opponent, and Nacho may have to be very physical to contain the threat of the Portuguese forward.
Current Form: Real Madrid [W-W-W-W-D]; Liverpool [W-W-W-L-L]
26/05/18 UCL Real Madrid 3 – 1 Liverpool
04/11/14 UCL Real Madrid 1 – 0 Liverpool
22/10/14 UCL Liverpool 0 – 3 Real Madrid
10/03/09 UCL Liverpool 4 – 0 Real Madrid
25/02/09 UCL Real Madrid 0 – 1 Liverpool
“We’ve been underrated and I’m very confident what my team can achieve. The history of this club shows we can always battle back. We never give up or throw in the towel.” – Zinedine Zidane-Real Madrid Manager
We have to chase Real Madrid tomorrow, who are in a really good moment. Very experienced. If someone knows how to win the Champions League, it is Real Madrid.” – Jurgen Klopp-Liverpool Manager
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