Real Madrid the chasers and face relentless schedule ahead of Liverpool tie

The first leg of Liverpool’s last 16 Champions League tie with Real Madrid is in less than 21 days, and it’s fair to say the two clubs are in contrasting form.

A replay of last season’s Champions League final takes place in the first knockout stage, with Anfield hosting the first leg on February 21 before a trip to the Bernabeu on March 15.

Jurgen Klopp‘s side will contest three Premier League fixtures before the first leg, while Real could have six games to navigate.

The tie looms on the horizon and, now out of both domestic Cups, eyes are being cast in its direction, both with hope and pessimism.

Injuries and form are to play a part, but how are Real Madrid shaping up before the last 16 tie?


Chasing Barcelona

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - Thursday, August 25, 2022: UEFA Men's Player of the Year, Karim Benzema of Real Madrid CF and UEFA Men's Coach of the Year, Carlo Ancelotti, Head Coach of Real Madrid CF pose for a photograph after the UEFA Champions League 2022/23 Group Stage Draw at Halic Congress Centre on August 25, 2022 in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photo by UEFA)

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are currently second in La Liga, five points behind leaders Barcelona after 18 games.

They’ve dropped points on five occasions and lost just twice, with only the Catalan giants laying claim to a better record (one defeat) in Spain’s top division.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have dropped points 11 times in the league, losing six, which accounts for 57.9 percent of the 19 games played so far this season.

Real’s record across all competitions stands at 21 victories, five draws and four defeats, with only Barcelona inflicting a loss by more than a single goal, in the Spanish Super Cup final.

The Spanish outfit have scored the most goals in La Liga to date with 38, only one team have kept them scoreless — Real Sociedad — and have conceded, on average, 0.88 goals per game in the topflight.

PARIS, FRANCE - MAY 27: Thibaut Courtois of Real Madrid speaks to the media during the Real Madrid Press Conference at Stade de France on May 27, 2022 in Paris, France. Real Madrid will face Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final on May 28, 2022. (Photo by UEFA)

A stark contrast to the Reds’ current defensive form, with an average 1.3 goals conceded per game in the Premier League.

Ballon d’Or winner Karim Benzema leads their goalscoring charts with 16 across all competitions, with Vinicius Junior (12) and Federico Valverde (8) rounding out the top three.

Real have lost two of their last nine games since returning from the World Cup break, in the same run of games the Reds have lost four.

Those numbers do not tell the whole story for Real Madrid, however.

Thibaut Courtois’ heroics have been required more often than Ancelotti would deem acceptable since the return from the World Cup break, and they’ve become more reliant on late goals.

They know how to turn it on in the moments that matter, though, as witnessed last season, and they’re still capable of that even amid a period of transition away from their veterans.


50% more games

PARIS, FRANCE - Saturday, May 28, 2022: Real Madrid's head coach Carlo Ancelotti (L) and Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp embrace before the UEFA Champions League Final game between Liverpool FC and Real Madrid CF at the Stade de France. (Photo by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

In the lead-up to the first leg, Real Madrid will play six more games before they arrive at Anfield, compared to Liverpool’s three over 14 days.

Klopp’s side are contained to England but Real Madrid will venture to Morocco for the Club World Cup in mid-February, and they will play those six games in the space of just 16 days.

Ancelotti does not currently have injury concerns that are likely to extend to the trip to Liverpool, although their relentless schedule could play its part.

Klopp, meanwhile, will hope to be able to call upon Virgil van Dijk, Ibrahima Konate and Diogo Jota by the time they arrive.