Liverpool vs Real Madrid. A fixture that has been billed as the ultimate opportunity at revenge for a number of Jurgen Klopp’s heroes who fell at the final hurdle back in the 2018 Champions League final.
However, if there is one player who will feel that added weight of expectation when Madrid are in town, then it is certainly Thiago Alcantara.
The former Barcelona man would love nothing more than to send Los Blancos out of the competition following a number of cruel disappointments in the past.
Remarkably, Thiago has never actually won a match against Madrid in which he has featured in the starting line-up, per transfermarkt.
His only victorious moment on the pitch against the 13-time European Cup winners came during a four-minute cameo off the bench for Barcelona during a 2-1 Copa Del Rey victory in 2012.
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At Bayern, his luck against Madrid followed a similar pattern of misfortune with Bayern being knocked out of the Champions League in each of the three occasions they were drawn against each-other – including two semi-finals.
Having won the competition last season, ironically, the only two teams that have stood between Thiago and the European crown in recent years has been Liverpool and, of course, Madrid.
Well, luckily for Thiago, he has since joined one of the teams that sent him packing from the competition back in March 2019.
Putting history to bed
It’s fair to assume, then, that Thiago will be chomping at the bit to get one over his old rivals.
And judging by his current manager’s record in European knockout competitions, he has picked the perfect environment to put his barren record against Madrid swiftly to bed.
Klopp has only ever been beaten once in a two-legged European tie since he became Liverpool manager in 2015 – against Atletico last season.
Whether it’s been Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern, Manchester United or Borussia Dortmund, Klopp has usually conjured up a way to give Liverpool an edge in Europe.
Let’s hope he adds another sprinkle of magic when he goes toe-to-toe with Zinedine Zidane next month.
For Thiago’s sake especially, another cruel setback against Real Madrid would just be unthinkable.