“People think Madrid are dead, but Madrid are never, never dead.”
Eduardo Camavinga uttered those words in an interview with Sid Lowe in The Guardian the day before their match against Liverpool. They were in reference to Real Madrid’s match against Manchester City.
Little did he know he was going to be proven correct.
Real Madrid had another vintage European night as the Champions League holders went to Anfield and put five past Liverpool.
However, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Not by a long shot.
Real Madrid found themselves down 2-0 inside 15 minutes. Darwin Nuñez’s backheel finish four minutes in put Liverpool ahead. Thibaut Courtois then had a howler ten minutes later as his attempt to play out the ball saw it strike his knee and stumble before Mohamed Salah poked it into the back of the net to double their lead.
Any other side would have hung their heads and simply played conservatively in an effort to not fall further behind. But this is Real Madrid and this is the Champions League so that wasn’t going to happen.
Vinicius Jr. pulled one back for the visitors in the 21st minute as he thundered a curler past Allison. Then, 15 minutes later, the Brazilian keeper produced a howler of his own as his attempt to clear the ball hit an unknowing Vinicius Jr. to tie the game at two.
While some would call this luck, others would argue Real Madrid make their own luck as they managed to equalize and ended the half the better team.
It wouldn’t take long before the 14-time European champions took the lead. A free-kick just outside the penalty area, Luka Modric sent in a cross, which was met by a rushing Eder Militao.
With the momentum fully on their side and not satisfied with a one-goal lead, Real Madrid did not let up and continued their onslaught in search of a fourth.
After spending much of the first half rather invisible, Karim Benzema made his presence felt. After playing a one-two with Rodrygo, the Frenchman got the ball inside the Liverpool area and took a speculative shot. The ball deflected off Joe Gomez, leaving Allison with nothing to do but watch Benzema celebrate his first and Madrid’s fourth.
But the bleeding for the appropriately named Reds wouldn’t stop there.
In a microcosm of what the game — perhaps their season — was, Fabinho lost the ball from a throw-in with Modric recovering and leaving a number of Liverpool defenders in his wake. He fed Vinicius Jr. who slipped in Benzema who only had Allison to beat. He danced around the keeper and despite Liverpool defenders trying to make the goal small, the Frenchman wasn’t going to miss as he netted a brace and put a further dagger in Liverpool’s hopes.
The final whistle was likely music to Liverpool players as well as supporters who were quickly silenced following an opening 20 minutes of jubilation. Real Madrid now head into the return leg with a comfortable lead.
“The quality of this team is that we don’t lose the control, never,” Carlo Ancelotti said after the match. “Also, if things are wrong, how they were in the first 15 minutes, we didn’t lose the control and slowly, slowly we took control of the game.
Things may not be going too well in LaLiga but they’re simply a different team when it comes to the Champions League. It’s almost as if a chip gets switched on and no matter if they go down early, Real Madrid don’t panic and they find a way to win much like they did tonight against Liverpool.
A three-goal leading heading into the Bernabeu in a couple of weeks is almost a dream scenario for Real Madrid. With progression to the Champions League quarterfinals, they can now focus on LaLiga where they face Atletico Madrid over the weekend before playing the first leg of the Copa del Rey semifinals against Barcelona.