Do Liverpool have what it takes to finally beat old rivals Real Madrid?

Liverpool’s trip to Real Madrid is the latest instalment in a rivalry which has seen two of the Champions League’s most famous names meet eight times in the past decade and on six occasions since Jurgen Klopp arrived at Anfield in 2015.

But like two rival boxers who keep being thrown together even though one is hopelessly overmatched, this is a rivalry which has only ever had one winner.

Played seven, lost six, drawn one – that’s the sorry tale for Liverpool against Real in the last decade, a cycle Klopp’s men must break out of in spectacular fashion tonight if they are to turn the tie on its head. Here is how the German has fared so far.

Crushing night in Kyiv

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool, 2018 Champions League final

Mo Salah busts his shoulder, Sergio Ramos’ reputation as a pantomime villain reaches new heights, Gareth Bale scores a worldie and keeper Loris Karius has a shocker as Madrid win their 15th European Cup.

Vin and vigor

Real Madrid 3-1 Liverpool, 2021 Champions League quarter-final, first leg

Three years and a pandemic on from Kyiv, the scoreline was nevertheless the same as a brace from Vinicius Jr fired the Spaniards to a decisive first-leg advantage at a deserted Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. Liverpool restored a modicum of pride with a goalless draw back at Anfield but it was Madrid who advanced to the last four.

French farce

Real Madrid 1-0 Liverpool, 2022 Champions League final

The off-field repercussions of last year’s final in Paris are still playing out and bring shame on Uefa’s organisation but the game did eventually go ahead and it was once again Madrid who came out on top. Liverpool were repeatedly thwarted by the inspired goalkeeping of Thibaut Courtois but Carlo Ancelotti’s men always carried a threat and were celebrating when that man Vinicius grabbed the only goal of the game.

Flashback: Liverpool v Barcelona, 2019 Champions League semi-final, 2nd leg

Divock Orig (right) went into Liverpool folklore with the goal that completed the incredible comeback against Barcelona (Picture: Getty)

Liverpool 4-0 Barcelona

There was a time when it felt as if Liverpool were capable of anything. The recent 7-0 demolition of Manchester United suggested they still are but this was peak Jurgen Klopp Reds and provides a huge source of inspiration as they plot another improbable comeback against elite Spanish opposition this evening.

And on this occasion Liverpool managed to pull off the seemingly impossible against Lionel Messi’s Barcelona without Mohamed Salah. In fact, the four goals came from unexpected sources: two each for midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum and back-up striker Divock Origi.

It will go down as one of the great European nights in front of the Kop. Down 3-0 from the first leg, fans turned up in hope rather than expectation and created a cauldron of noise.

Liverpool began brightly and got one back on seven minutes through Origi’s tap-in but it took Wijnaldum’s intervention, with two goals in the space of 122 seconds, to get Anfield truly rocking. The Reds had climbed the mountain, they were level. What now?

The cult of Origi owes much to his 79th-minute winner from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s quickly taken corner which settled the tie and sent Liverpool back to the final. He cemented his place in Reds folklore with the goal that settled the final against Tottenham but this was the match everyone was talking about.

There were echoes of the 2005 European Cup win on penalties against Milan after being three down at half-time. Can lightning strike for a third time at the Bernabeu? Real ran riot at Anfield but you can never write off Klopp’s Reds.

Anfield agony

Liverpool 2-5 Real Madrid

The Merseysiders’ frustrations at a disjointed season were shaken off during a cathartic opening 15 minutes which had Anfield rocking. But the hosts’ familiar failings of a leggy midfield and porous defence resurfaced as Madrid smashed five goals without reply to make a little bit of Anfield history and leave Klopp’s men with a mountain to climb this evening.

Carlo can’t take qualification for granted

Ancelotti is taking no chances against Liverpool (Picture: Real Madrid)

Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti is refusing to take a place in the quarter-finals for granted despite holding a 5-2 lead over Liverpool from the first leg.

Ancelotti, who as AC Milan manager famously suffered a remarkable 45-minute comeback by Liverpool in the 2005 final, said: ‘The message is quite simple: not to assume. The players understand that I think it will be an open match as Liverpool come here trying to change the dynamic.

‘We have to do both things, attacking and defending, properly. We will not just defend, we are thinking about the attack.’

No team in Champions League history has ever lost the home leg of a knockout tie by three goals and recovered to go through but Ancelotti said: ‘From a psychological level, the match is more complex for us than Liverpool. Liverpool come here to give it their all and do their best from minute one, whatever happens. We saw that from the first leg.

‘We’ll do all we can from the beginning but we have more questions than the opponent.’

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