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Real Madrid exposed Liverpool’s frailties on a bruising night at Anfield

Real Madrid, Bet of the Day
© Pixabay/ismaellabrador

At one point it looked like it was destined to be one of Liverpool’s great European nights at Anfield, but in the end, Jurgen Klopp’s side were rather humiliated on home soil.

Real Madrid’s 5-2 victory puts them in pole position to advance to the Champions League quarter-finals, while Liverpool’s last lingering hopes of silverware this season hang by a delicate thread. 

It could all have been so different. Amid a raucous Anfield atmosphere redolent of their greatest recent triumphs in the Champions League, Liverpool stormed into a 2-0 lead after just 14 minutes. First, Darwin Nunez got on the end of Mohamed Salah’s centre to nonchalantly flick the ball past the wrong-footed Thibaut Courtois. Then, Salah inflicted further pain on the Real Madrid goalkeeper, pouncing on a poor touch to lash the ball into the net. 

The Kop was bouncing, and even at that early stage, belief was spreading that Liverpool could still salvage this so-far below-par season with glory in Europe’s premier club competition.

However, the European champions were never likely to go down without a fight. Some lax defending allowed Vinicius Junior to fire a rocket past Alisson before the same player was on hand to close down Alisson and deflect the ball into the gaping net — another calamitous goalkeeping error on the night.

Anfield fell silent, and in the second half Real Madrid flexed their muscles, as all great sporting champions are wont to do. In the end it felt like men against boys, as an Eder Militao header and a Karim Benzema brace left Liverpool red-faced on their own patch. It’s the heaviest home European defeat ever suffered by the club — certainly not what the football odds were predicting. 

This was a match that showcased how far Liverpool have fallen, even since last season when they were fighting for titles on all fronts. The opening salvo offered a brief flashback to the very best of Liverpool under Klopp — incessant pressing, dynamic transitions, sumptuous attacking football and ruthless finishing. But from the moment Real Madrid got back in the game, the cracks resurfaced and a chasm formed between the two sides.

The sad fact is that this was a game that, a few seasons ago, Liverpool would have gone on to win comfortably. From 2-0 up they would have seized control of proceedings, the back four and Fabinho forming a brick wall whilst the attacking talents continued to hunt for more goals. 

The excitement amongst the crowd after Liverpool’s two early goals were born from a belief that perhaps this would be a throwback to those heady days. In the end this game served as evidence that this squad’s best days may now be far behind them. 

Talks of a summer rebuild will sound even louder after this defeat. Of course, it must be remembered that Real Madrid are one of the greatest teams in the world, but Liverpool’s meek surrender in the second half was a worrying sign. They will regroup and give it their all in Madrid, but thoughts of any kind of comeback are a mere pipe dream.