UEFA Champions League Goals Reload - Episode 1Sep 22
The two teams are familiar with each other after meeting in last season's final in Paris. Real Madrid came out on top, lifting the trophy for the 14th time.
There will be no repeat of that final this year, but both teams will have aspirations of more Champions League success despite their respective struggles in their domestic leagues.
Here are three reasons to watch the first leg, live on BT Sport 1.
Reds out for revenge
Liverpool were unfortunate not to win the Champions League for the seventh time back in May.
Vinicius Junior’s second goal was all that separated the sides but Real Madrid were indebted to goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois, who was named man of the match.
That defeat will still sting months later, particularly given Liverpool lost to Real Madrid in the 2018 final under Jurgen Klopp.
The Spaniards have been something of a thorn in the side for the Reds, who will be keen to get one over on Europe’s most successful club.
Doing so will be easier said than done, of course. Even over two legs, Liverpool haven’t fared well against Los Blancos. Two seasons ago they were beaten 3-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.
Not since 2009 have Liverpool bettered Real Madrid, when Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard inspired Rafa Benitez’s team to a 5-0 aggregate win in the last 16.
A repeat of that result - and particularly the 4-0 demolition at Anfield - would go down very well on Merseyside.
Benzema fit and firing
After some niggling injury issues earlier in the season, Karim Benzema looks to be back to full capacity now.
That’s bad news for Liverpool, of course, but for the neutral it’s an exciting prospect. The Frenchman lit up the Champions League this season and his goals will be crucial if Real Madrid are to reach the latter stages again.
Benzema has scored eight goals in ten games since the turn of the year and provided two assists in a recent 2-0 victory over Valencia.
He was on target twice from the penalty spot last time out against Elche but was rested for Real Madrid’s trip to Osasuna.
Carlo Ancelotti clearly wants his talismanic striker to be fresh for the visit of Anfield - hardly surprising given Los Blancos trail Barcelona by eight points at the top of La Liga and will likely be prioritising success in the Champions League again.
Liverpool could have Virgil van Dijk back at the heart of their defence too, a huge boost to their hopes of reaching the quarter-finals. It promises to be another fascinating battle between the Dutch defender and Benzema.
Liverpool rediscovering their rhythm
It’s been a strange season for Liverpool. Injuries have been a continuous problem and form has been patchy throughout the campaign, with some poor performances and results leading to questions surrounding the future of Klopp’s team.
There have been signs of late, though, that this transitional period could be coming to an end. The starting XI is beginning to look more settled again and players - like Diogo Jota, Van Dijk and soon Luis Diaz - are returning from injury.
The 2-0 derby win over Everton was particularly encouraging, a familiar performance of intensity and control against a side buoyed by the arrival of new manager Sean Dyche.
“We needed this game, we needed this performance,” Klopp said. “Our people absolutely deserved it. I loved the atmosphere – even before we scored. It is an insane atmosphere people create here.”
With the team and the crowd back in sync, Liverpool will feel confident of rising to the occasion again at what promises to be a raucous Anfield on Tuesday night.