Real Madrid welcome Liverpool to the Santiago Bernabéu this evening for the concluding leg of the clubs’ Champions League Round of 16 double-header, where the Spanish giants will hope to complete the job over Jurgen Klopp’s ailing Reds.
Los Blancos laid waste to Liverpool at Anfield in the first leg in February in a staggering 5-2 mauling that set a new record-home defeat for the Merseysiders in Europe. Only a result of similarly epic proportions will suffice for Liverpool later on if they are to keep their Champions League hopes alive.
Below, I’ve assembled a stats pack for this evening’s showpiece showdown which is laden with angles of attack for your bet builder coupons. To squeeze the maximum value out of the data, I recommend you take a glance at my Stats Pack Guide.
Star striker Karim Benzema watched on from the stands when Real Madrid beat Espanyol at the weekend, though the Frenchman is back in training and should return to the XI this evening. Ferland Mendy and David Alaba are both doubtful at left-back however, and Nacho is expected to deputise.
Antonio Rudiger could be drafted back into central defence, while Federico Valverde and Vinicius Junior – who performed so well at Anfield – should slot in either side of Benzema in Los Blancos’ frontline.
Joe Gomez, Luis Diaz, Naby Keita and Thiago Alcantara have all been ruled out for Liverpool, though Brazilian midfielder Arthur was fit enough to claim a spot on the bench in Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Bournemouth.
Diogo Jota impressed when he was introduced from the sidelines against the Cherries and the Portuguese forward could be rewarded with a start in attack this evening alongside Cody Gakpo, Darwin Nunez and Mohamed Salah. With Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic both out, James Milner or Harvey Elliot could start in midfield.
It already looks as though Real Madrid will relinquish their La Liga title this season, though the current European champions still look built for success on the continent, where they are averaging a thumping 17.6 shots and 7.1 shots on target per 90.
Remarkably, Real Madrid mustered just nine attempts at Anfield last month, scoring with five of their six accurate efforts, and in keeping with their squeaky-clean record in the Champions League so far, Los Blancos had just one player booked on Merseyside. Real are priced decently at 4/11 to collect under 2.5 cards again this evening.
Liverpool will believe they have a shot at redemption in the Spanish capital this evening, though the Reds’ loss at Bournemouth on Saturday was their tenth away defeat in all competitions and their toils on the road are difficult to ignore.
Statistically, Liverpool’s numbers make for favourable reading, particularly in attack, though their goals and xG against per 90 figures are both worse than Real Madrid’s. Liverpool have been conceding just seven shots per game at home in the UCL, though that jumps to a meatier 12 per match on average when you isolate their away fixtures in the competition. Los Blancos are 3/10 to have 4+ shots on target against the Reds’ generous defence later on.
Player Shots and Shots on Target
Real Madrid’s three-pronged attack of Federico Valverde, Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema is one of Europe’s most devastating frontlines, and Vinicius and Benzema were particularly potent at Anfield last month, racking up five attempts on target between them.
Both players have the finishing skills to trouble Alisson again in the second leg, and Vinicius looks great value at 2/5 to register 1+ shots on target in Madrid, while Benzema, who is hitting 2.8 accurate attempts per 90 in the Champions League, is of interest at even money in the 2+ shots on target stakes.
Cody Gakpo didn’t get much of a look in during last month’s first leg at Anfield, though Mohamed Salah and Darwin Nunez clocked five attempts and three shots on target between them in the Reds’ 5-2 loss.
That duo should be Liverpool’s main source of match-defining moments again in Madrid this evening. Salah has had at least one strike on target in each of his last seven starts for Liverpool in all competitions, while Nunez has done the same in six of his last seven runouts. Both dangerous forwards hold value at 3/10 in the 1+ shots on target stakes again in Spain.
Player Goals and Assists
Brazilian winger Vinicius Junior just loves scoring goals against Liverpool and the 22-year-old has banged home five goals in the last four encounters between the clubs. Vini Jr should earn a place on plenty of coupons to score anytime at 15/8 or to either notch or assist at 10/11 today.
Karim Benzema meanwhile, has notched a net-shredding 17 goals in his last 16 Champions League appearances – a haul that includes his brace at Anfield last month – and the 35-year-old can be backed at 11/10 to score anytime against the Reds again this evening.
Liverpool scored twice from an xG of 1.8 against Real Madrid at Anfield in February and the Reds have enough dynamism in the final third to create and convert more chances in the second leg.
Darwin Nunez (9/5 anytime) scored on Merseyside against Los Blancos last month, though 61% of his total goals for Liverpool this season have been hit at Anfield and the 23-year-old doesn’t seem to shine as brightly on the road.
Mohamed Salah meanwhile, is already into double figures for away games for the Reds in 2022/23 and the Egyptian found the net when Liverpool lasted visited the Santiago Bernabéu in April 2021. The 30-year-old is 10/11 to either or assist again there today.
Possession in the first leg at Anfield last month was pretty evenly split with Real Madrid controlling 48.4% of the ball and Liverpool 51.6%, and an equal share between the teams could be in the works again in Spain later on.
Eder Militao (59) and Luka Modric (58) topped the individual charts for Real on Merseyside, though you have to bump the passing tallies up to 70+ to find value for either player this evening – a target both have struggled to hit in games this season.
Toni Kroos however, hit 85, 82 and 94 in each of his last three starts respectively and the German technician is 1/5 to play 70+ or 6/5 to play 90+ passes today.
Fabinho isn’t having the greatest campaign of his career by his own high standards, though the Brazilian did call the shots for Liverpool in last month’s first leg from a possession perspective, and the 29-year-old played a game-high 88 passes at Anfield. Fabinho is 15/8 to play 70 or more passes in Madrid.
Liverpool’s most-prominent passer this season, Virgil van Dijk, clocked 66 passes against Real last month, though he hit 90 or more in two of the four matches that followed, and 70+ passes (at 3/10) is within the 31-year-old’s capabilities later on.
Real Madrid Cards
Vinicius Junior was the only Real Madrid player to have his name taken in the first leg, though Los Blancos’ card haul will be heavily influenced by the game state in the second leg. If Liverpool do manage to score early, Real’s tackles are almost certain to start flying with more venom.
Nevertheless, with Real’s clean card-collecting record in the Champions League so far this season, it feels safer to stick to fouls here. The versatile Nacho, who could be filling in at left-back, could be in line for an uncomfortable evening’s work against Mohamed Salah. The 33-year-old Spaniard is 2/9 to commit 1+ fouls today.
On the opposite flank, Dani Carvajal – who executed one foul at Anfield in February, is a generous 4/7 to match that total at the Santiago Bernabéu, while holding midfielder Aurélien Tchouaméni (1.2 fouls per 90 in UCL) could also be on the referee’s radar.
Mohamed Salah (fouled 0.93 times p/90) was an influential figure at Anfield last month, especially in the first half, and on paper at least, the wide attacker should have too much speed and trickery for Real Madrid’s Nacho. The veteran defender could wheel out some of his more nefarious skills to stop Salah today.
Cody Gakpo’s (2.19) explosive acceleration could temp Dani Carvajal into some interesting challenges on the opposite wing, while Diogo Jota (1.6) could be a real thorn in Aurélien Tchouaméni’s side if the diminutive Portuguese forward is deployed a little more centrally than usual.
Match-Ups to watch
Nacho vs Mohamed Salah
Dani Carvajal vs Cody Gakpo
Aurélien Tchouaméni vs Diogo Jota
Liverpool will need to unleash all of their potent pressing powers and aggression to make a game of it this evening, though their tackles will have to be timed to perfection with card-happy referee Felix Zwayer (7.33 cards per game) officiating.
Unsurprisingly, Fabinho and Darwin Nunez committed fouls in the first leg and both combative performers are worth pricing in the markets today. Fabinho is 5/6 to sin at least twice, while Nunez is 2/5 to commit 1+ fouls in Madrid.
Trent Alexander-Arnold meanwhile, won’t be relishing the prospect of marking a certain Vinicius Junio this evening. The England man has a point to prove against the Brazilian and at 1/4 to commit 1+ infractions, the 24-year-old looks like good value.
Defenders often decide that kicking Vinicius Junior is the best course of action in their attempts to stop the flying Brazilian and the 22-year-old has been fouled a staggering 3.91 times per 90 this term. Vini Jr, who attempted 11 dribbles at Anfield last month, will be rubbing his hands at the thought of tormenting Trent Alexander-Arnold again this evening.
His compatriot, Eder Militao, tends to draw quite a few fouls (1.46 p/90) in defence and more bumps and bruises could be on the menu for the 25-year-old his way when he faces Darwin Nunez later on. The brilliant Luka Modric might need to fend off attention from Liverpool’s serial fouler Fabinho in midfield.
Match-Ups to watch
Fabinho vs Luka Modric
Darwin Nunez vs Eder Militao
Trent Alexander-Arnold vs Vinicius Junior
My bet builder picks of the pack
The tie could very well be over given the result of the first leg, but you can be sure that Liverpool will be chomping at the bit for some revenge. This should still prove great for a bet builder, and you can find my picks below.