Liverpool’s reward for beating RB Leipzig comprehensively over two-legs is a Champions League quarter-final clash against 13-time holders Real Madrid.
Our initial reaction is ‘bring it on’, and Jurgen Klopp has a favourable record in European knockout football while at the Anfield helm.
In fact, he has only ever been beaten once over a two-legged European tie as Liverpool manager – and that took place last season over Real’s local rivals Atletico.
Of course, there are positive and negative elements to the draw.
Liverpool have avoided both of the remaining English teams, as well as Bayern Munich and Paris Saint Germain.
Good time to play them
Madrid, by their high standards, have had a disappointing season, to say the least.
Zidane’s Spanish champions are currently six points off leaders Atletico, with 11 games of the season to play.
And considering that Atletico were comprehensively dispatched by Chelsea, it’s fair to assume that the standard of football in Spain hasn’t quite been up to scratch this season.
However, Madrid are on the rise and have won seven of their previous nine matches – losing none in the process.
Perhaps Madrid are slowly beginning to discover their form at the right time – as are Liverpool, who have won their previous two matches.
Liverpool will need to do a professional job if they are to take down the competition’s most successful opponents, who haven’t been at their best this season.
Two European heavyweights go toe-to-toe
Proper European night
First things first, this has the feeling of a proper Champions League clash – good enough even to be the final.
To put their dominance in the competition into perspective, Liverpool and Madrid have a combined 19 European Cups between them.
They are the two most successful teams from England and Spain, with both Madrid and Liverpool also currently the reigning champions of their respective countries.
Liverpool and Madrid have enjoyed some fine battles on Europe’s biggest stage, too, most notably the 5-0 aggregate win back in 2009.
There were plenty of tricky opponents available, but none who carry the prestige of Madrid.
It’s just a crying shame that fans won’t be in attendance to oversee such a mouth-watering spectacle.
Indeed, this will also be the first meeting between the two teams since Sergio Ramos controversially injured Mohamed Salah in the 2018 final.
The World Cup-winning defender took up the role as pantomime villain after he effectively slashed Liverpool’s chances in Kiev by putting an end to their talisman’s evening.
Salah, especially, will be one of a number of Liverpool players eyeing up this contest with a feeling of revenge.
That said, it will be good to see Ramos, as well as a number of other Madrid players, take to the Anfield turf next month, as two teams littered in serial winners prepare to go to war.