Real Madrid's two-leg match against Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 has all the makings of a crucial moment in both teams' seasons and one that will set the tone for the rest of their 2023 campaigns, even though it is still a month away.
Real has changed from being a traditional winning team to having weaknesses that Liverpool will want to exploit. These weaknesses include disappointment in losing to Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup final and troubles in La Liga against teams like Villarreal.
Sadly for the Reds, this season has also been far from ideal and a significant decline from its previously entirely faultless standards, to the point that head coach Jürgen Klopp has thought about going back to the fundamentals. The most it can hope for is to make the top four of the Premier League and win an unexpected title.
Given these weaknesses, the match—between the clubs who competed in last year's Champions League final—is an ideal chance to start over, maybe save their seasons, and dispel sceptics. There is much more to consider, and it can be a do-or-die situation.
The importance of this game psychologically is unquestionable. Real is accustomed to igniting during the knockout rounds and won't be afraid of anyone. However, a victory against Liverpool on aggregate would pave the way for a 15th championship, marking a sixth straight success over the rival. Bayern Munich or Paris Saint-Germain will be eliminated in the round of 16, and only Manchester City and Napoli appear to have a chance to thwart Carlo Ancelotti's intentions in that regard. Advancing would increase the confidence necessary to go all the way.
Throughout his tenure on Merseyside, Klopp's finest teams for Liverpool had the most confidence and momentum, resulting in protracted winning streaks and a large number of league points. His stars have recently lost out on these things. Even though there are just two ties, Real's elimination would completely change the mentality given its previous dismal performance against the enduring European champion.
The outcome will somewhat have an equivalent impact on transfer market developments. The January window will be long gone by the time Real and Liverpool square off on February 21. However, the summer plans of both teams will have already been set in motion and might still depend on this match. Jude Bellingham, who is desired by both, will undoubtedly be watching, regardless of what happens with his present side, Borussia Dortmund, in the upcoming round of the competition. If he hasn't already, the much sought-after Englishman will be considering his choices by that point.
The conclusion of the competition sparks broader discussion outside of him. If Real's young players succeed, it will raise questions about whether Real actually needs flashy acquisitions given the rising importance of Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouameni, Federico Valverde, and other up-and-comers. Bellingham would be expensive—possibly exceeding the minimum required to compete for the midfielder, which is €100 million ($108 million).
The desire for these real players, particularly Kylian Mbappé, who can actually provide something new to the front line, would increase if they were to lose, though. However, the PSG forward is also exorbitantly costly, and Karim Benzema's scoring streak in white jerseys is still going strong. Would an early European withdrawal be sufficient to completely change its position? Certainly, it would.
A loss would highlight Liverpool's need for a full master in centre field, in their opinion. Additionally, it would imply that Liverpool requires enormous financial support to compete at the highest level, whether it comes from Qatar or somewhere else.
Currently, Liverpool doesn't appear ready to pass the test with just its present selections, despite the fact that club history has shown us that it can emerge from the shadows and provide brilliant performances on much anticipated European evenings. Even while the Liverpool name will always be enough to draw attention, this interaction is nevertheless essential to the story's overall development.
There are further financial incentives for each participant
The overall champion of the Champions League, according to Diario AS, will get around €85 million ($92 million), with the exception of Bayern, who will receive the full sum following a spotless group stage. That is very important for both teams, but notably for Liverpool, which wants to win European championships in order to increase its chances of making the playoffs the following season.
Ancelotti claims that this is "the beginning of an era" for Real in reaction to the pessimism surrounding the Santiago Bernabéu and the persistent Spanish media, which is consistently eager to capitalise on any Real missteps. A victory over its English rival vindicates him, but a loss implies there is no trophy guarantee—impossible given the standard Real has established.
For Liverpool, unlike Real, a complete reconstruction is imminent, especially after yet another defeat to the Spaniards. Success in Europe makes recruiting the best reinforcements simpler, highlighting how crucial this battle is.
Although losing won't necessarily determine the teams' future success, it might make this season extremely unpleasant. A crucial victory may turn any unfavourable storylines upside down while competing in a tournament where both players establish their reputations.
Real Madrid Vs Liverpool Is Already Make Or Break
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