Real Madrid vs. Liverpool: 4 burning questions after a 3-1 victory

Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images)
Real Madrid, Vinicius Junior (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /
2 of 3
Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez
Real Madrid, Nacho Fernandez (Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images) /

Can the center backs keep holding up?

Vinicius Junior was the big star of the night, breaking out with a brace and plenty of other dangerous plays. But if he was the show-stealer for Real Madrid and the clear Man of the Match, then Eder Militao and Nacho Fernandez were the equivalent heroes on the defensive side for the way they stepped up.

They were not necessarily perfect, given that Militao’s poor positioning against Diogo Jota helped lead to Salah’s goal and Nacho had a couple of plays where he gave the ball away by not positioning himself better to receive a pass out of the press.

But let me tell you something. The fact that I can remember just a couple of plays off the top of my head as blemishes tells you how good these two were. Liverpool threw the kitchen sink at Real Madrid by the end of the match, yet Real’s defense did not break and maintained a 3-1 lead. Aside from that one sloppy play, which would have been forgiven if Lucas Vazquez held the offsides line with the astutely-positioned Nacho, Militao and Nacho were excellent.

They will continue to be tested, though. Lionel Messi and Barcelona will be a more difficult challenge this weekend, if we consider form. And you can bet that Liverpool will be more motivated next week in the second leg at Anfield. Sadio Mane, in particular, looks set to improve, as he spent more time on the ground in the first leg.

Nacho and Militao should be able to hold their own. I have confidence in them now. Militao was a good Champions League player for Porto and has been pretty good for Real when he starts. And Nacho has been one of the stars of 2021 for Real thus far. They must keep it up, but Madridistas absolutely have their backs right now.