Liverpool has been drawn with Real Madrid for the Champions League quarter-finals, but the Spanish giants can be swatted aside.
Historical reflex might send a shiver down the spine at the thought of getting one of the competition’s best-ever teams in the knockout stages, but Jurgen Klopp shouldn’t be afraid.
While fans might have disastrous memories of Loris Karius, concussion and Gareth Bale attempting that volley with the determination of a man who’s family would be executed if he didn’t score that one goal.
Liverpool don’t like Real Madrid
But this is not the same unit. Their spine is made up of ageing veterans. Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema are the glue that holds this team together, but they’re all over 30.
Kroos is the youngest at 31, Modric the oldest at 35. This Real Madrid side is built on foundations not designed to last.
The hunger will still be there, and between the four giants of the game, there is considerable skill and experience. But the rest of the side is weak.
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Madrid never properly replaced the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo and the players brought in to provide some attacking flair in the final third have been injured or in poor form. Eden Hazard has never transferred his Premier League form to La Liga, while Brazilian Vinicius Junior has been linked with the exit door.
Defensive midfielder Casimero is one of their most important players, but if Liverpool can direct play around him and dance away from 31-tear-old Kroos and 35-year-old Modric, they will have a huge chance to take a winning position into the home leg of this tie.
Players like Marcos Asensio or Federico Valverde are useful squad additions, but they’re not likely to send Klopp nightmares.
One issue Liverpool must be careful of is in attack, but with Fabinho restored to his rightful role as a defensive midfielder and Real’s heavy reliance on Benzema, Klopp should be able to mitigate these risks.
The Reds must not fear Madrid. In fact, they couldn’t have picked a better time to play them.