Champions League hits and misses: No miracle for Liverpool, but Kevin De Bruyne hits back at critics with brilliant performance -Dlight News

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold collide during the Champions League, round of 16 second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)

No miracle for lackluster Liverpool

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior, left, and Liverpool's Trent Alexander-Arnold collide during the Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at the Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday, March 15. of 2023 (AP Photo/Manu Fernández)
Trent Alexander-Arnold slides over Vinicius Junior as Liverpool crash out of the Champions League against Real Madrid

Maybe, just maybe, if Darwin Nunez’s early shot off Mohamed Salah’s pass had been a bit closer to either corner. There were still 83 minutes to play at that point. Long time for a miracle. But in the end Jurgen Klopp was not in the mood for ‘if only’.

“That’s hypothetical,” he said. Sport completely naturally. “We prepared for a special performance, but we couldn’t put it on the field tonight. It was obvious that the best team came through.”

Karim Benzema’s late goal sealed it, but this was not the first time Real Madrid had left Liverpool open. In fact, they attempted almost twice as many shots as in the game at Anfield, also generating a higher expected goal total.

Real Madrid's Federico Valverde, right, tries to beat Liverpool's goalkeeper Alisson during the Champions League Round of 16 second leg match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at Santiago Bernabéu stadium on Wednesday, May 15. March 2023 (AP Photo/Manu Fernández)
Liverpool had Alisson to thank for a series of fine saves against Real Madrid.

Liverpool were indebted to Alisson for keeping the score level before Benzema’s opening goal, the Brazilian making a series of fine saves as Carlo Ancelotti’s side once again exposed the defensive vulnerability that has become such a hallmark. important in their performances.

Of course, the tie was pretty much over after their capitulation in the first leg. Liverpool are capable of doing special things on the European stage, but the loss to Bournemouth had sapped the optimism created by the 7-0 win over Manchester United.

There were flashes of promise in the first half, with Courtois forced into action on several occasions, but Liverpool’s mediocre second half, despite having four forwards on the pitch, felt more like a reflection of their overall performance.

In that period, while Madrid displayed the mix of poise and quality that makes them such a strong force in this competition, Liverpool faded, mustering just one shot on goal between half-time and the bitter end. All that remains now is a fight for the top four.
nick wright

Who can stop the Real’s headlines?

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema, right, celebrates with Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior after scoring his side's first goal during the Champions League, round of 16, second leg match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at Santiago stadium Bernabeu.  in Madrid, Spain, on Wednesday, March 15, 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Karim Benzema celebrates with Vinicius Junior after Real Madrid’s goal in the second leg against Liverpool

Real Madrid is the team to beat in the Champions League, if it wasn’t already obvious.

The knockout specialists did the job against Liverpool. A 5-2 lead shouldn’t have been a cause for concern and Real made sure it wasn’t. The headlines have an answer for everything.

The visitors tried to get past them but shot blank. Instead, Real could have won by a bigger margin if Karim Benzema had brought his shooting boots. He still found the net without them.

Karim Benzema of Real Madrid celebrates after scoring his team's first goal during the Champions League round of 16 second leg match between Real Madrid and Liverpool at Santiago Bernabéu stadium in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, 15 March 2023. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)
Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring for Real Madrid in the second leg

Alisson proved his nightmare at Anfield was a blip, saving Liverpool time and time again. In the end, the damage was done in a stunning second half in the first leg.

Who can stop them now? Napoli might throw a few different questions at them if the draw goes down that way, but there is little the experienced backbone of Thibaut Courtois, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Karim Benzema hasn’t found.

Bayern Munich and Man City will also pose tough tests but Real have beaten them before and can do it again. You certainly wouldn’t turn against it.
david richardson

De Bruyne ‘keeps it simple’ to shine

Kevin De Bruyne of Manchester City
Kevin De Bruyne delivered a statement performance for Man City against RB Leipzig

The night was by Erling Haaland but Kevin De Bruyne was the co-star.

Pep Guardiola had urged the midfielder to “keep it simple” to rediscover his form. “When the simple things are done perfectly and we are at the right time, the actions to create incredible passes that he, only he, can find, will be easier, it will be better,” said the City boss.

But little about his performance seemed simple. It was explosive. De Bruyne was everywhere, constantly wandering to get the ball. He charged across midfield unleashing a bolt of lightning that smashed off the crossbar and perfectly for Haaland’s header.

Only City defenders surpassed De Bruyne’s 75 touches. Bernardo Silva had 19 fewer despite playing the same number of minutes. He delivered 14 crosses as Leipzig collapsed under the relentless pressure.

“Kevin is a player for dynamics. If he does not have the dynamics or the movements, he is not a player who receives the ball in the pockets and can stop,” Guardiola said after the win. “He is a guy who goes outside, inside, attacks here, attacks there. He transitions, he presses high.

“When it happens, assists are free, goals are free.”

It was fitting that De Bruyne scored a delicious seventh in the last minute to cap his performance, just as doubters had been making rounds after starting on the bench in three of City’s last seven Premier League games.

This was De Bruyne “keeping it simple”.
david richardson

When is the draw?

The quarter-final and semi-final draws will take place on Friday 17 March at 11am UK time in Nyon, Switzerland at UEFA headquarters.

The eight round of 16 winners participate in an open draw for the quarterfinals and semifinals.

There is no seeding or country protection, so clubs can face opposition from the same country. They can also draw teams they previously played with in the group stage.

A final draw to determine the ‘home’ team will also take place for administrative reasons for the main event in Istanbul, Turkey on June 10.

You can follow the draw with sky sports live blog, so you can stay on top of everything here.

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