Real Madrid enjoyed a fruitful night in the first-leg of the Champions League quarterfinals, beating English champions Liverpool 3-1. The impressive victory at Madrid’s Di Stefano training stadium will be extra special as the hosts were playing without their first choice centre-back pairing. With Madrid being in pole position to qualify for the semifinals, manager Zinedine Zidane sent a word of caution to his players, saying “There is a long road ahead”.
He feels that Liverpool will “leave all they have on the pitch” next week in the second leg at Anfield. “Liverpool is the opponent and we know they are going to leave all they have on the pitch, I have no question about that,” Zidane said. The Frenchman was understandably cautious as Liverpool are known for great comebacks. In 2019, the Reds overcame a 0-3 first-leg deficit to beat Barcelona 4-0 in the return game.
“We just need to be ready and it is going to be a very good second leg match. We will need to do the same thing in the second leg,” he added. “We are happy with the result but we have won nothing. We are happy with the performance and what the players have done is huge after a lot of difficulties in our season.”
What could work in Liverpool’s favour is the vital away goal scored by Mohamed Salah at the start of the second half. With away goals playing a crucial role in Champions League, Liverpool will have a great chance of qualifying if they can keep Real Madrid’s vibrant attack quiet in the return leg.
“There is a long road ahead and we are alive. Today is the first leg but we’ll know we’ll have a second leg and our idea is to think that we go into that and the result will be 0-0,” Zidane said.
“For us, we are happy but we have another complicated game for the second leg. These two sides are quite offensive and we knew we could hurt them from that aspect, so we prepared properly.”
It all started with a beautiful Toni Kroos long ball from which Vinicius Junior opened the scoring. Marco Asensio netted another owing to a Trent Alexander-Arnold mistake. After Salah scored, Vinicius netted his second of the night to restore the two-goal cushion for Madrid.
“What we did quite well was defend properly with the three in the middle and we know if we defend properly we will get chances in the attack and that is what happened. The first goal was quite beautiful with a wonderful pass from Toni [Kroos],” he added.