by Zack Lambert (@bigbird8224)
April 14th, 2021
Real Madrid C.F. at Liverpool F.C.
Spread: Liverpool (-0.5); O/U: 3, 3.5
Moneyline: Madrid +260, Liverpool -105, Draw +300
Time/Location: 3:00 ET, Anfield, Liverpool, England
Real Madrid (WWWWW); 2nd in La Liga
Real Madrid have been an interesting study this season due to their inconsistencies, but since the turn of the year the club have become a terminator, winning Classicos, washing to floor with meddling competition, and churning through their Champions League opponents. It’s not a surprise to see them at this point in the tournament, but there were doubts that needed to be put to sleep. Real Madrid’s second stint under Zinedine Zidane has been far from perfect, but the recent run of form has been as close to perfect as it gets. The midfield is back in great shape and despite injuries in the defensive third, the team is still defending at a very high level.
The biggest issue for this Real Madrid side will almost certainly come at right back where both Lucas Vázquez and Dani Carvajal are injured, leaving Álvaro Odriozola to fend at the position for the first time this Champions League campaign assuming a formation change isn’t in order. The depth in the defense is very poor at the moment but the quality of Éder Militão and and Nacho is good enough to get Real Madrid over the hump and into the semifinals for the first time since they beat Liverpool for their last UCL title in 2017. This battle of Galacticos will come down to how well Madrid’s midfield performs, and I have no doubts in their quality.
Liverpool (WWWLW); 6th in Premier League
Liverpool’s run in the Premier League has been largely disappointing. They’re currently dueling with David Moyes’ West Ham and Jose Mourinho’s Spurs side to claw back into European football positions and may not be able to accomplish the feat considering the momentum of the league. The Reds’ injuries have plagued them all season, especially at center back, and that won’t change for this game, so they’ll have to ask the wingers to shoulder most of the load again. The front line isn’t unaccustomed to owning a large majority of the work for Liverpool, but it is used to having much more support from the back line.
Jürgen Klopp’s £400 million back line has all but disintegrated this season in terms of ligaments and quality. Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez have been injured for nearly the entire season and the quality of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson has fallen off severely. The full backs will still be expected to produce in this game, but fans may not be too inspired by their recent performances. However, it won’t matter where the help comes from, Mané and Salah will need some, or else this game won’t be remembered fondly by the Liverpool masses. Despite Thiago returning from injury and being in form, Liverpool’s midfield will still be the lesser of the two units in this match. They’ll need to play a perfect game if there’s a plan to advance in this tournament. Also, Alisson turning into Superman might not hurt either.
Analysis and Pick
The front line of Madrid ran rampant over the defense of Liverpool in the opening match, but that’s not to say that the Reds didn’t have their fair chances as well. But what was the difference between Real Madrid and Liverpool in that game? Real finished their chances more, and that’s what counts in these games. Winning pretty isn’t the goal, winning is, and I haven’t seen anything that indicates Liverpool can hold Real Madrid. I don’t really care that this game is in Anfield because Liverpool haven’t been good at Anfield this season. I don’t think Liverpool has the quality to overcome this deficit or even win this match outright like they’re so curiously favored to do. I recommend taking the Real Madrid/Draw double chance at -120 for this match.