Real Madrid: 3 Liverpool players to watch closely in the first leg

Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images)
Liverpool, Thiago Alcantara (Photo by Matthew Ashton - AMA/Getty Images) /

Real Madrid will defend the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano against Liverpool, who seem to be righting the ship after struggling to adjust to massive injuries on defense. Ozan Kabak has been in inspired form, and the Reds recently defeated Arsenal 3-0 in the Premier League.

But Real Madrid have been even more impressive over an extended period of time. They have won their last four matches and are undefeated since the start of February. There are many reasons for Madridistas to be confident.

That said, Liverpool are a tough matchup and will be all-in for the Champions League. Here are three players on the visiting side to watch closely this Tuesday night.

Liverpool CM Thiago

We begin with Thiago, who is a name familiar to Madridistas due to his time with Barcelona and, mostly, Bayern Munich. He is coming off a majestic performance against the Gunners, completing 92.2 percent of his 90 attempts in the 3-0 win, per And he was even better defensively.

Thiago’s all-around impact on the Liverpool midfield could make-or-break their chances, which means he will be the key player to address in the middle of the park from a Madrid perspective. The former Bayern star has a non-stop motor and is one of the most tactically intelligent players on this planet.

It will be Thiago vs. everyone, and Real Madrid cannot underestimate the quality of their adversary here. Casemiro must be at his disruptive best against Liverpool’s new metronome.

Liverpool, Diogo Jota
Liverpool, Diogo Jota (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Liverpool FW Diogo Jota

Diogo Jota could start up top for Liverpool, or he could be a super-sub. Whatever the case, he is a potential difference-maker for the Reds on the scoresheet. The Portuguese forward scored three goals over the international break, and then he followed it up with a brace in the win over Arsenal. He only played 29 minutes in that match!

Jota has been a great signing for Jurgen Klopp and adds a lot of quality in the final third to a Liverpool team that boasts one of – if not THE – the best Premier League trios of the era in Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, and Roberto Firmino.

In total, Jota has eight goals in the Premier League and four in the Champions League. He has scored thrice in his last two Premier League appearances and six times in his last four matches for club and country. He even had an assist in his last Champions League appearance, which was a 2-0 win over RB Leipzig.

Madridistas should not overlook the threat he poses to Real’s defense.

Liverpool, Ozan Kabak
Liverpool, Ozan Kabak (Photo by Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images) /

Liverpool CB Ozan Kabak

Ozan Kabak is one of the most promising center backs in Europe. He emerged as a top prospect at Stuttgart, even impressing with his goal-scoring ability. And then he increased his reputation at Schalke with an incredible 2019-2020 season before taking a hit due to the Royal Blues’ historically awful play. Now, he is out of the dysfunction in Gelsenkirchen after a loan move at the winter transfer window, and he will surely secure a permanent move to Liverpool at this rate.

Right now, Kabak is the Reds’ best defender. That’s not ideal, but he is coming off two great performances against Wolverhampton and Arsenal. Both matches resulted in clean sheets for the Reds, who are slowly finding continuity at the back, which could mean trouble for Real.

Kabak is a progressive passer out of the back and a physical and astute defender. Even at 21, he has a good bag of tricks when it comes to dealing with quicker players, and there are few who are stronger than him.

Next. 5 Real Madrid players who must shine vs. Liverpool. dark

Real Madrid should be wary of his strength, ability on set pieces, and tenacity in the tackle. He is an underrated defender. But Real can take advantage of his over-eagerness and zeal. That will be a task for Karim Benzema, whose veteran guile could come in handy if Kabak gets too aggressive and leaves some space for the silky Benz to slot home in an eighth straight match.