As they step out onto the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu pitch on Wednesday night, Liverpool will have the weight of Champions League history as well as Real Madrid against them.
Los Blancos remain the overwhelming favourites to progress from the two-legged tie thanks to an epic 5-2 win at Anfield in the first leg.
That it came after the Reds were leading 2-0 was surely all the more galling for Liverpool’s players, staff and supporters.
Despite the scale of the task ahead, manager, Jurgen Klopp, has opted to take a more motivational tone, as is his usual modus operandi.
Georginio Wijnaldum was Liverpool’s hero in that famous 4-0 win over Barcelona
“In this room I think 100 per cent of the people think we have no chance,” he said in the pre-match press conference, according toThe Athletic (subscription required).
“If I am the only one who thinks we have a little chance I am fine with that. We are the complete outsiders. Real Madrid are 3-0 up and that is not what you want for Christmas, but it’s football and we will try to give it a go. We have nothing to lose so that is a better situation than when you have everything to lose.”
If the German is able to mastermind another comeback win against Spanish opposition, this one would surely topple the 4-0 victory over Barcelona back in 2019’s Champions League semi-final.
On that occasion the Reds swarmed all over the Catalans, though being at home was likely the advantage they needed on the night.
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This time around they’ve got to turned around a three-goal deficit in Madrid’s backyard, and Carlo Ancelotti will surely have his troops well drilled and eager to hit Liverpool on the break at every turn.
History favours the hosts in this one as, according to The Athletic (subscription required), Real have progressed in 26 of the 27 Champions League knockout ties where they’ve won the first leg.