“The remarkable Will Still (the subject of a nice Guardian piece a few weeks ago) is a studio analyst on Belgian TV tonight,” says Edward Ricketts. “Beggar thinks he’s only 30!”
Don’t just do it. It’s such a brilliant story, and he seems admirably down to earth.
“Good interview by the good Doctor Sid with Camavinga,” says Ruth Purdue. – I hope he plays as well as he did in the WC final. He is technically superb. I just hope he doesn’t get booked into this one. It can be awesome and he usually always gets booked up.”
It was overshadowed by the chaos and phallic goalkeeping, but I thought he was absurdly good coming into the final. Strolled on at left back, not even his best position, and didn’t put a foot wrong.
“Benzema is the best forward in the world, that’s Real’s secret,” says Jeff Sax. “And his absence at the World Cup is why France lost.”
As if the final wasn’t exciting enough, imagine if he had played.
Jurgen Klopp speaks
The atmosphere is very good – we are excited about the opportunity… That’s how you should feel before a Champions League game… The results and some of the things we saw (in the last two games) gave us the feeling (we are playing better ).
What would be the best case scenario? We beat them 8-0 or something. It is Sweet unlikely. This game is 180 minutes, and the more you can get out of the first half, the better, and if you don’t get anything from the first half, you have to turn it around in the second half.
I don’t see it as one test (for Stefan Bajcetic)), I see it as an opportunity for him as well. I didn’t even talk to him about it. Everything looks natural and I don’t think it makes sense to start talking one-on-one with him before a Real Madrid game.
If I was a player I’d be nervous after that, because I’d think ‘the manager thinks I’m not ready for it’. I think he’s ready for it, that’s why he’s starting, and if he’s not, it’s my fault so he can’t lose. There was no need to change, but I’m also really happy with the options we have on the bench because they will be important.
“Hey Rob,” says Peter Oh. “It is too early to call Stefan Bajcetic Stevie Bis it not?”
That is if you remember UK Top 40 March 1991.
“Last year’s CL was so strange: Real Madrid won the whole thing playing about 10 minutes of football a game, while Liverpool lost it by being shut down for 10 seconds in the final, having played every minute of football possible in a season,” asys Justin Kavanagh. “So is ‘Ancelotti time’ a new concept in football, like ‘Fergie time’, except, like in a horror movie, you just don’t know when it’s going to happen?”
At least let’s call it “Carlo time” so we can sing it like MC Hammer. You have to be careful about recency bias – this is the best I’ve written in my entire career – but I struggle to think of a European Cup-winning campaign with an equally rich combination of drama and escapology. It’s almost enough to make you believe in fate.
Liverpool v Real Madrid: the modern era
Players who will miss the second stage if they are booked tonight
Do you like scary movies?
Liverpool team news: Nunez starts
Darwin Nunez is fit to play, which is a huge boost for Liverpool, and one that allows Jurgen Klopp to name an unchanged team for the first time in a while. The teenager Stefan Bajceticone of the catalysts for Liverpool’s mini-revival, is doing his best Champions League debut.
Liverpool (4-3-3) Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez.
Subs: Adrian, Kelleher, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Elliott, Jota, Tsimikas, Carvalho, Matip.
Few football writers in the world, if any, produce as many good interviews as Sid Lowe. This sit-down with the extraordinary Eduardo Camavinga is another cracker.
Real Madrid team news
Madrid have announced their team a little early. Carlo Ancelotti makes two changes from Real’s win at Osasuna this weekend. Karim Benzema is back after resting in Pamplona, which means Fede Valverde moves into midfield and Dani Ceballos is left out. Another Dani C, Carvajal to be precise, replacing Nacho at right back.
The bench contains Toni Krooswho was supposed to be absent due to illness but was added to the squad this afternoon.
Real Madrid (4-3-3) Courtois; Carvajal, Eder Militao, Rudiger, Alaba; Valverde, Camavinga, Modric; Rodrygo, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
Subs: Lunin, Vallejo, Nacho, Hazard, Kroos, Asensio, Odriozola, Lucas Vasquez, Dani Ceballos, Mario Martin, Arribas, Alvaro.
Here’s one we wrote earlier, for today’s Football Daily email.
You can sum up Jürgen Klopp’s Big Cup history at Liverpool in one word. It’s not “heavy” or “metal”; it’s not even “heavy-metal” when used as an adjective. It’s “Madrid”. Liverpool beat Spurs at the Estadio Metropolitano, aka the House of Simeone, in 2019 to win their sixth title. In the other four seasons, from 2018-22, they were knocked out by Madrid’s best: Real three times, including two finals, and Atlético in a pre-Covid night that gets weirder with each recall. So it was no great surprise when Liverpool, who had a one-in-four chance of drawing Real Madrid in round of 16, draw Real Madrid in round of 16.
The bad news for Liverpool is that Madrid have been – please say there’s an award for the naffest portmanteau – their Klopptonite in this competition. Even after signing Eduardo Camavinga, Aurélien Tchouaméni and probably Jude Bellingham, Real are the reason Liverpool’s heavyweight midfield is frozen in time. The good news for Liverpool is that you are only as good as your next Madrid game. The truth is that with the right amount of wind and a goalkeeping change or two, Liverpool could have won the 2018 and 2022 finals, so the teams are closer than a after Dossena Real 11-2 Liverpool can suggest.
“I didn’t watch (the 2022 final) until this weekend and what I realized straight away was … why I hadn’t,” sighed Klopp, symbolically frisbeeing the match’s DVD out the nearest open window. “It was real torture because we played a good game and could have won – and that’s the key word because we could but didn’t, because they scored and we didn’t. We saw how experienced Madrid are and how little they bothered by the fact that the other team has chances… What held us back a little bit was that it was a final and we didn’t take enough risks in small moments. We weren’t adventurous enough.”
One man who will never lack for adventure is the sometimes outrageously rude Darwin Núñez, and Liverpool are hopeful he will recover from the heel to play some part at Anfield on Tuesday night. “So,” continued Klopp, “someone told me – and I don’t even know if it was true – that Carlo (Ancelotti) said after the final that (with) Liverpool it’s cool because they knew exactly what they’re going to face. ” No longer. Núñez – and Football Daily says this with love, having defended him since day one and misses three and four – is about as predictable as the afterlife. But even in a season where he has been constantly ridiculed, Núñez has 11 goals and four assists in 28 games – 10 of which came as a substitute.
Núñez’s presence – not to mention the absence of Tchouaméni, Toni Kroos and indeed Casemiro in Madrid’s midfield – is one of the reasons why Liverpool will be hoping that this time, more than any other, they will find a way to beat a Madrid team . But Real have one or two or 14 reasons for optimism themselves. And if they kick Klopp out of the Big Cup again, they might even get to keep him.