Madrid: Real Madrid got used to pulling off dramatic comebacks in the Champions League last season. Now it needs to avoid one to keep its title defense going.
It will be an uphill task for Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium Wednesday to reverse a 5-2 loss from the first leg in the round of 16.
It definitely won’t be easy — no away team has ever erased a three-goal loss from the first leg in the Champions League. Only five times the team that lost at home rallied in the second leg, with Manchester United the only one to overcome a two-goal deficit in a round-of-16 matchup against Paris Saint-Germain in 2019.
Liverpool did manage a huge comeback at home in the 2019 semifinals, rallying against another Spanish club, Barcelona. It had lost 3-0 at the Camp Nou before pulling off a 4-0 win in the second leg at home to keep alive a run that eventually ended with the team winning the trophy. Only three other teams overcame a deficit of three or more goals — Barcelona, Roma and Deportivo La Coruña.
“We need to go and do something special,” Liverpool defender Trent Alexander-Arnold said. “It’s about throwing the kitchen sink at it and going all out.”
Trent Alexander-Arnold: "We're going to have to go and do something special in Spain, to be honest. But, you know, it's one of them where it's similar to the Barcelona game where we kind of go over there with nothing to lose." pic.twitter.com/xehQL0HW2X
— Madrid Universal (@MadridUniversal) March 14, 2023
Madrid, which beat Liverpool in last season’s final for a record-extending 14th European title, pulled off thrilling comebacks on its way to that final, rallying from behind against PSG in the round of 16, Chelsea in the quarterfinals and Manchester City in the semifinals.
Madrid also rallied against Liverpool in the first leg this season after going down 2-0 in the first half in England, eventually building its comfortable three-goal advantage with two goals each by Vinícius Júnior and Karim Benzema. Éder Militão also scored for Madrid at Anfield.
The only time Madrid failed to advance in the Champions League after winning the first leg on the road was in 2019 when it was eliminated by Ajax in the round of 16.
Madrid has won six of its last seven matches against Liverpool in the Champions League, drawing the other one.
The team coached by Carlo Ancelotti ended a three-match winless run with a 3-1 victory over Espanyol at the Bernabéu in the Spanish league Saturday. The coach is expected to have Ferland Mendy and enzema available after recovering from injuries.
Liverpool took another hit to its confidence with a 1-0 loss at relegation-threatened Bournemouth over the weekend, hurting its chances of moving closer to the top four in the Premier League. Mohamed Salah missed a penalty in that game.
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