Liverpool v Real Madrid: Goals forecast for Anfield encounter

Liverpool look to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit in their Champions League quarter-final showdown with Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday. Mark O'Haire shares his best bet.

Liverpool end Anfield hoodoo

Trent Alexander-Arnold scored an injury-time winner as Liverpool came from behind to beat Aston Villa and end a run of six consecutive defeats at Anfield. Ollie Watkins fired the visitors ahead with a shot which squirmed through Alisson; after having an equaliser ruled out via VAR, the Reds eventually levelled through Mohamed Salah before the late winner.

The Merseysiders had plenty of chances either side of their goals - 23 shots in total - while Salah's strike was Liverpool's first goal in open play at Anfield since 27th December - a run of 12 hours and 45 minutes and 132 shots.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was understandably delighted to end his side's home hoodo. Speaking post-match, he said: "It was massive, it felt massive to win. A real relief. We needed that win, these three points feel big."

Attention immediately turns towards Wednesday night's second leg tie with Real Madrid. Curtis Jones is the only injury absentee to be available again for the Reds, although the youngster is unlikely to feature in the starting XI. Klopp must decide whether to field all four of his available forwards or persist with his tried-and-trusted 4-3-3 system.

Real Madrid impress in Clasico win

Real Madrid are the new favourites to clinch La Liga title honours after Los Blancos bagged a deserved 2-1 Clasico triumph over old rivals Barcelona on Saturday night. Zinedine Zidane's side remain second in the standings, although Atletico Madrid's faltering recent form has allowed their city rivals to sneak into contention with the final furlong in-sight.

Real Madrid controlled the first half of the Clasico with impressive goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos putting them into a commanding 2-0 lead at the break at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano. However, the Catalans reacted positively after the restart with defender Oscar Mingueza scuffing home on the hour mark in a rain-soaked showdown.

But despite being reduced to 10 men in the closing minutes, after Casemiro was dismissed for two quick bookings, Zidane's hosts dug deep and survived a late scare as substitute Ilaix Moriba volleyed against the bar in added time.

It means Los Blancos have overcome both Liverpool and Barca thus far in a week dubbed 'La Cemana Fantastico' by the Spanish press - the fantastic week. However, injuries continue to take their toll on Zidane's squad with Lucas Vazquez the latest to be ruled out. with Fede Valverde and Toni Kroos rated doubtful. Raphael Varane could return at Anfield, mind.

Anfield factor redued without fans

Real Madrid have won their last four matches against Liverpool in the Champions League and ran out 3-0 victors in their most recent trip to Anfield back in October 2014. Indeed, the Reds have tended to toil when taking on Spanish sides at their Merseyside base, with a record of five defeats from 11 fixtures in this competition when hosting La Liga's finest.

Liverpool 1.99 have twice managed to turn over two-goal first leg deficits in 13 previous European ties, the most recent example arriving against Barcelona in 2019. However, the Anfield effect is diminished without supporters and the Reds' haven't completely convinced on home soil in continental or domestic competition this term.

Real Madrid 3.75 have won 15 of their 16 previous knockout round ties when winning the first leg by 2+ goals, with the exception being 2003-04 against Monaco. Zinedine Zidane's side have proven themselves as big game performers this term and will be encouraged by their record of scoring in each of their past 23 Champions League knockout stage games.

Goals forecast

All the ingredients are in place for another goal-filled game on Wednesday night. Liverpool will need to chase their way back into proceedings, giving Real Madrid ample opportunity on the counter-attack to make their mark, and both teams are undoubtedly coming into the clash with key personnel fit and available in attack, whilst missing defensive leaders.

Goals tend to increase in second leg Champions League knockout ties and I'm expecting both teams to get on the scoresheet at Anfield. With the Both Teams To Score quote a little too skinny to support at 1.66, it may pay to add Over 2.5 Goals 1.60 into the mix and combine the two wagers on the Same Game Multi for a more appealing 1.85 shot.

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