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'Unlikelier than ever' - media react to Liverpool's Real Madrid loss

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Liverpool will need to overturn a 3-1 deficit if they are to get past Real Madrid in the Champions League quarter-final.

The dismal loss to the La Liga giants on Tuesday night sets up what could be an enthralling evening at Anfield in the second leg next week.



Memories of their win over Barcelona two years ago will surface, but no fans inside their home stadium make this encounter a very different proposition.



As usual after a game, the national media were out in force giving their verdict on how Liverpool performed at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.



Here is a selection of what they are saying.

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The Independent - Miguel Delaney

“A game of yards, rather than inches, that gives Liverpool a significant gap to try and overcome for the second leg. That was the kind of space they afforded Real Madrid, who greatly exploited it, and could have won by much more.

“Perhaps that’s some solace for Liverpool, maybe the set-up for something more. They’ll really need much more.

“Accounts of Madrid’s demise have been overplayed. The ability of Toni Kroos has been under-appreciated.

“The midfielder was the centre, very literally, of a supreme Madrid European performance.

“If it sometimes feels a bit of empty mythologising to talk of how the club’s history in the competition fosters superior performances - the nous to suddenly lift it - this 3-1 win displayed the reality of it. It illustrated how the competition can bring more out of teams, in the manner that was probably expected from Liverpool pre-game.”

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The Guardian - Sid Lowe

“Jürgen Klopp insisted there was no anger left from 2018 but Tuesday night might be a different matter. Some things have changed since these two teams last met in that Champions League final yet the result remained the same, two goals from Vinícius Júnior and one from Marco Asensio taking Real Madrid to another 3-1 victory. The difference is that this time Liverpool will get a second chance and that is the hope to which they must cling after a reunion in which they extracted neither revenge nor redemption.

“Anfield, though, is not the same without fans and on this evidence that hope will be limited, Liverpool beaten by a side that might even have lamented that their lead is not larger. Klopp may reflect that they were also complicit in their own demise, Madrid finding imposing themselves easier than they had dared expect and a mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold gifting the second of the three goals they did score.

“Defender Nacho Fernandez, superb here, had warned that there is something about Madrid in this competition and so it proved. It was not just the score; it was the sense Zinedine Zidane’s team was always beyond Liverpool’s reach, even when Mohamed Salah scored the goal that momentarily gave them a foothold or during the final minutes when they sought a second that would have shifted expectations before the second leg.”

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The Times - Paul Joyce

“There was a time when this tie would have seemed retrievable. But without supporters hollering them on, a recent dismal record at Anfield and this wretched performance still weighing heavy on their minds, Liverpool’s powers of recovery are unlikelier than ever.

“After inviting Real Madrid to take a sizeable stride towards another Champions League semi-final, Jürgen Klopp was left with only simmering regret. Regret over his team selection, regret over the ramshackle defensive display that gifted Zinédine Zidane’s side three goals and regret that Liverpool were second best against physical opponents in too many of the duels all over the pitch.

“They would be punished for a listless, error-strewn display with a dreadful mistake from Trent Alexander-Arnold presenting Marco Asensio with Real’s second goal before the break, Alisson then dealt unconvincingly with Vinícius Júnior’s shot as he claimed his second strike of what was, at times, a chastening night.

“Mohamed Salah had been the subplot going into this quarter-final tie given his injury in the final when the teams last met three years ago, and his scrambled goal, from Liverpool’s first attempt in the 51st minute, offered a sliver of hope. But it feels little more than that.

“All the talk over the next week will be of rousing comebacks, of the 4-0 victory over Barcelona on the evening when the Kop left Lionel Messi shaken to the core two years ago but, this time, they will have to whip up all the noise themselves.”

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Daily Mail - Martin Samuel

“It will have to be another one of those special European nights at Anfield. A very special night, really, given the unique circumstances of the return. 'This is Anfield' says the sign. But it isn't at the moment, shorn of its sound and fury.

“So, two goals down against one of the most experienced teams in Europe, can Liverpool do it without The Kop, without that famous roar, without the inspiration of supporters who legend has it suck the ball towards an opponents' goal? Can they do it in an echoing empty arena, against a Real Madrid team that has passed this way so many times before, without flinching?

“This was a huge win for Zinedine Zidane and his players, given the absence of centre-halves Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane. Ramos sat in the stand, casually attired, looking like a west coast computer programmer, Varane was at home, isolating with covid.”

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