Real Madrid vs. Liverpool: Los Blancos must worry about key player’s return

Real Madrid (Photo by Visionhaus)
Real Madrid (Photo by Visionhaus) /

Real Madrid will face Eibar in La Liga on Saturday in their first game after the March international break, but Madridistas are also keeping an eye on the three fixtures following Matchday 29. Because on Tuesday, Los Blancos will face Liverpool in the first leg of the Champions League quarterfinals. Since they face Barcelona next weekend, a strong start to the tie becomes even more important for Real.

Madridistas are expecting to see Toni Kroos in the starting XI after recovering from an injury, and Eden Hazard and Fede Valverde could also be back in time for this game. But Liverpool are also set to get a key boost in the form of a returning star.

According to Liverpool’s official website, manager Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Roberto Firmino will be ready for this weekend’s big Premier League fixture against Arsenal, which means the Brazilian will be ready to suit up on Tuesday against Los Blancos.

Firmino has not played in about a month, as he last suited up on Mar. 5 in a 1-0 loss to Chelsea. He has missed Liverpool’s last three injuries.

Roberto Firmino is a big-game player Real Madrid can’t overlook

He is now back, though, and he is another big-game player to watch out for. Firmino’s return means that Liverpool will have their vaunted attacking trio of Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, and Firmino in the XI against a Real Madrid defense that will be without Sergio Ramos, who could miss up to a month with his latest injury.

Nacho Fernandez has been great this season whenever Ramos has been injured, and he played at a high level in both legs of the Round of 16 against Atalanta – with and without Ramos in the XI. But facing Firmino and Salah is a different task entirely. Salah is one of the world’s best goal-scorers, while Firmino is a well-rounded “false nine” type of player. He is no Karim Benzema, but he is world-class in his own right.

So far this season, Firmino has six goals and five assists in another solid, if not understated, Premier League campaign. But he has been less convincing in the Champions League across two starts and five substitute appearances, failing to register a single goal contributor in his small 236-minute sample size of matches.

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Maybe Madridistas will take that as a positive sign, but maybe his quiet Champions League means that he’s due for a big comeback in the quarterfinals. Either way, Real Madrid must be wary of the way he makes his teammates in the attack that much better.