Liverpool 0-0 Real Madrid. Madrid go through to the semi-finals. Here is the immediate reaction. Up next: player ratings, pressers and the post game podcast!
Real Madrid had a 3-1 lead to maintain after a really strong first leg showing, but they now had to travel to the famous Anfield Stadium to book their place in the Champions League semi-finals. A weekend El Clásico win to boost league title hopes will have done Los Blancos the world of good, and confidence would be sky high coming into the game. However, Madrid were still without multiple key players and had to start the match with Fede Valverde at right-back after Lucas Vázquez was confirmed to be out for the season. Besides that change, the team was similar to the side that beat Liverpool last week, as well as the one that overcame Barcelona. Castilla players Víctor Chust, Marvin Park and Sergio Arribas returned to the bench for this one.
Karim Benzema took a big hit within the first minute after James Milner caught his ankle during a tackle, and that rocked Real Madrid momentarily. Mohamed Salah found himself clean through after Sadio Mané played him in, but Thibaut Courtois made a terrific low save to prevent disaster. A minute later Courtois denied Salah once more at a tight angle. Things settled as Luka Modrić started to pull the strings, but Courtois still had to pull off an excellent save to deny James Milner from distance. Benzema could have killed the entire tie on the counter, but his intercepted pass smacked against the post to save Liverpool. That chance did completely kill the sting of the game - and Madrid seemed a lot more comfortable and able to contain the hosts. Liverpool did pile on the pressure towards the end of the first half, but other than a high strike from Salah and a penalty shout involving Mané - they were unable to find a vital goal needed to start the comeback.
27 - Thibaut Courtois (50 appearances in Champions League) has saved 27 of the last 34 shots on target he has faced for Real Madrid in all competitions (seven goals conceded). Giant. pic.twitter.com/1dStCb7VYL— OptaJose (@OptaJose) April 14, 2021
Liverpool came out pushing from the off, with Roberto Firmino coming close a minute in, but Courtois was once again equal to it. The game then became rather tame once more, with Liverpool quietly looking for openings that rarely came. Fede Valverde played a ridiculous if not lucky ball forward to Vinícius Júnior but the Brazilian was unable to round his countryman Alisson Becker like in the first leg. Liverpool then had chances through both Salah and Diego Jota, but with no success. Benzema spurned another chance after heading over within the last ten minutes, but it didn’t make much difference as other than a few crosses into the area, the hosts didn’t come close to getting even half of what they needed on the night. Salah tested Courtois once more at the death, but it was a test the big Belgian was always going to pass with ease. The final whistle blew confirming Real Madrid’s place in the semi-finals of the Champions League!
So Real Madrid are through to the semi-finals after completing a huge week of superb results from the most difficult fixtures of the season so far. It will be Chelsea standing in Madrid’s way as they attempt to reach yet another European final. The game was slightly uncomfortable to watch, but thanks to Madrid’s calm manner it never became excruciating. Defensive performances stuck out, with Casemiro making several vital interceptions - and the make shift defence nulling the Liverpool front three. Courtois would probably still claim my man of the match shout, with saves that have kept Real Madrid in the competition, and a high quality performance that we have become so used to seeing from him. Were you happy with the performance? How far do you think that Real Madrid can go in this competition?