Champions draw: Real Madrid – Liverpool, the last time the whites were happy

Ramos and Salah, in the action that injured the Liverpool forward.

Real Madrid will meet Liverpool in the quarterfinals of the Champions League, the last team they were really happy with in Europe. That night in 2018 in Kiev was that of Bale and his volley, Karius and his blunders, and the lethal engagement between Salah and Ramos that sent the Egyptian to the infirmary. However, the white happiness barely lasted a few minutes, what it took for Cristiano and the Welshman to slide their goodbye, an idea that Zinedine Zidane did not express in a hot way but that the French coach did consume days later.

That triumph in Ukraine and what happened in the following days, with the Ronaldo and ZZ marches, marked the end of the second golden age of meringues in the old European Cup. Since then, the downline in their fetish tournament has been pronounced, aired relentlessly the next two years in the round of 16 by Ajax and City, and with the feeling that their football had lagged behind the elite and the new speed dictates , physical and intensity.

The life of the redsFor its part, in these three courses it has gone through all the possible phases: they reached the continental ceiling the following year, raising the orejona to the sky of the Metropolitan, last season they prolonged the top, winning the Premier after 30 blank campaigns at home, but in this they have entered a severe crisis.

They are sixth in the Premier, five points behind the Champions League positions; they pale due to the injury to the center-back that changed their lives (Van Dijk) after that final lost against Madrid; and they suffer from the internal troubles of an attacking trio (Salah-Firmino-Mané) that breaks apart. “We’re not stupid either and, for now, it doesn’t look like we’re going to win the Champions League,” said Jürgen Klopp last week after beating Leipzig 4-0 on aggregate in the round of 16. That had actually been Liverpool’s best moment in weeks, orphaned by its people in Anfield’s lair from the effects of the pandemic.

On paper, the draw did not sulk either of them because they avoided the three most fearsome teams (Bayern, City and PSG), who also go for the other part of the table. The whites will play the first leg (April 6 or 7) as locals and the return will be a week later (13 or 14). In the middle of both duels, Zizou and his team will have to negotiate the classic with Barcelona in Valdebebas (Saturday 10, at 9:00 p.m.). The winner of Madrid-Liverpool will meet in the semifinals (April 27-28 and May 4-5) with the winner of Porto-Chelsea. The other quarters are City-Dortmund and Bayern-PSG (last champion and finalist).

The European life of Real Madrid has become very precarious since that end of 2018, although the eleven type that Zidane could mount, injuries on the sidelines, would not present great changes. Some decisive, yes, like the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo, for whom the French coach sighed this week in public. “It can happen, it can happen,” he replied when asked about the distant possibility of a return for the Portuguese at 36 years of age. Despite the heavy investment in this period, especially in attack to alleviate the sinkhole opened by CR’s departure, the rest of the pillars largely remain in place: Carvajal-Ramos-Varane, Casemiro-Kroos-Modric, and Benzema . Courtois relieved Navas well, Marcelo and Isco fell, and Bale tries to rehabilitate himself in the arms of Mourinho at Tottenham after the song of the white swan of Kiev, where he left a postcard volley.

In Klopp’s wardrobe there have not been excessive changes in these three campaigns, although two did have a surgical effect. Alisson relieved Karius, whose two gross errors in Madrid’s goals both gave rise to large amounts of literature and medical trials, and Virgil Van Dijk formed the defense. net. Liverpool, with the 85 million they paid Southampton for him, made him the most expensive defender in history, and the Dutchman made them good. His arrival propelled a team that threatened to attack with a poisonous trident, but was cracking behind. An influence that has once again been evidenced by his absence since last October due to the rupture of the cruciate ligament in his right knee. In midfield, Klopp joined Thiago Alcántara last summer, although his touch and association football still does not weigh enough.

If you look at the last time they were found, they are two groups that suffer. More Liverpool lately. While Madrid does the rubber as it can in the League, the reds They are in serious danger of not qualifying for the next Champions League through the Premier League, defeated at Anfield in the last six League games, a negative record impossible to understand without the helplessness of the empty stands.

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