Modric: Mbappe? Great players always welcome

Luka Modric has praised Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe and says “great players are always welcome at Real Madrid”.

France World Cup-winner Mbappe has been consistently linked with a transfer to the La Liga giants, with countryman Zinedine Zidane currently in charge at the Bernabeu.

However, PSG sporting director Leonardo has repeatedly refuted claims of Mbappe’s rumoured departure, claiming the Ligue 1 club will look to tie down the 22-year-old’s future.

Luka Modric and Kylian Mbappe
Modric and Mbappe won the Golden Ball and Young Player awards at the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Speaking before the second leg of Real Madrid’s quarter-final against Liverpool on Wednesday, 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Modric said: “You hear a lot of stories about the players who’ll be coming in and who’ll be leaving, but I can’t go into that.

“Mbappe is a great player and he’s proved that with his national team and PSG.

“Great players are always welcome at Real Madrid, but it wouldn’t be right of me to speak about players at other clubs, particularly at this stage of the season.

“We’ll have to see what happens next season, but he’s a top player and is amongst the best in the world.”

Modric: We’ll go for the win at Anfield

Real Madrid head to Anfield with a 3-1 lead from the first leg and will hope to progress to the last four of the Champions League for the first time since the 2017/18 season.

However, Liverpool have a history of memorable comebacks in the competition – most notably a dramatic semi-final against Barcelona in 2019 – and Modric insists his side will not take anything for granted.

27 October 2020, North Rhine-Westphalia, M'nchengladbach: Football: Champions League, Group stage, Group B, 2nd matchday, Borussia M'nchengladbach - Real Madrid at the stadium in Borussia-Park. Coach Zinedine Zidane (l) of Madrid is standing on the edge of the field. Photo by: Marius Becker/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Real Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane takes his side to Anfield on Wednesday for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final against Liverpool

“I expect it to be a very demanding game, in which we’ll have to deliver a performance befitting of the competition and we’ll have to put in a top display,” he said.

“We’ll have to try and do what we did in the first leg and attack and defend as a unit, go out to get the win and not defend our lead. We’ve got to go for the win.”

‘I’d prefer to face amazing Anfield atmosphere’

Modric added he would rather face Liverpool in front of a full crowd even though he knows the power of Anfield.

The Croatia international has experienced the atmosphere with both Tottenham and Real, with his last visit in 2014 finishing in a 3-0 victory for the La Liga side in their Champions League group game.

Wednesday’s situation will be vastly different as the ground will remain empty and Modric admits that will be disappointing, even if it would offer an advantage for the hosts.

Limited number of Liverpool fans at Anfield
Modric says he would prefer to play in front of a crowd at Anfield

“We are in a situation everyone knows we are living in at the moment. Hopefully this will change quickly,” he said.

“To be honest I would prefer to play at Anfield with the crowd because of the atmosphere here.

“I played a few times with Tottenham, we played that game with Real and the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone wants to play with fans, with the crowd.

“That’s why we are not thinking about if there is a crowd or not or if there is an advantage for us or not.

“It’s a situation that we are in and we need to do the best we can in the circumstances we are in.”

Zidane: We will manage our injuries

Real’s injury problems have got worse since the first leg as Lucas Vazquez has been sidelined with a knee problem, joining fellow defenders Sergio Ramos (calf), Dani Carvajal (hamstring), Raphael Varane (Covid-19) and forward Eden Hazard (muscle) on the absentee list.

However, Zidane refused to allow it to be considered a weakness as his fit players become overstretched.

Ramos AP


Semra Hunter from La Liga TV says Real Madrid’s injury concerns have not eased ahead of the second leg of their Champions League tie against Liverpool

“We are going to try to manage our strengths, manage our injuries. We are always going to go out and try to win the game,” he said.

“There are challenges and difficulties. You grow stronger as a team and become more united. That is one of the qualities this team has.

“It is true a lot has happened to this team this season. I’d love to have everyone available but we have everyone who is here and they are the ones who count.

“We will need to compete, defend well and attack when we get the chance. We are very prepared to face up to this game.”


Liverpool vs Real Madrid preview: Jones back, Vazquez out

Team news, stats, kick-off time ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg between Liverpool and Real Madrid on Wednesday.

Team News

Liverpool should have midfielder Curtis Jones back for Wednesday’s crunch Champions League quarter-final second leg with Real Madrid.

Jones missed Saturday’s Premier League victory over Aston Villa with a muscular strain but is expected to return to the Liverpool squad, though the game will come too soon for captain Jordan Henderson.

Long-term absentees Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip remain out, meaning the inexperienced centre-back pairing of Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips is likely to be retained.

Real Madrid have added Lucas Vazquez to their lengthy injury list ahead of Wednesday’s trip to Anfield.

The makeshift wing-back injured his knee in Saturday’s El Clasico victory over Barcelona, meaning Alvaro Odriozola is set to deputise in Vazquez’s absence.

Real are sweating on the fitness of forward Federico Valverde after bruising his foot though he is expected to recover, but the same cannot be said for Eden Hazard, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane or Dani Carvajal.

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Klopp cautious about comeback chances

ap - Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp is cautious over Liverpool’s comeback credentials

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insists his side can not take another Champions League comeback for granted as they look to overturn a two-goal deficit against Real Madrid.

Wednesday’s match takes place five years to the day since they pulled off an added-time victory to beat Klopp’s former side Borussia Dortmund in a Europa League quarter-final second leg, having been 4-2 down on aggregate with 24 minutes to go. Despite the impressive record of comebacks, however, Klopp sounded a note of caution.

“You cannot take it for granted. You never could and you never should,” he said.

“You don’t get a comeback because you had one in the past. You only have a chance if you play really good football in the present and that’s what we have to do.

“The best situation would be that you didn’t need a comeback. That’s not worth talking about now.”

Robertson: Liverpool need near-perfect performance

Mo Salah celebrates with Andrew Robertson
Andy Robertson says Liverpool need a near-perfect performance to overturn Real Madrid’s first-leg lead

Liverpool defender Andy Robertson insists the players are determined to prolong their Champions League season despite few people giving them a chance of making the semi-finals after their woeful first-leg performance against Real Madrid.

Jurgen Klopp’s side trail 3-1 heading into the second leg at Anfield, which devoid of fans will not be able to provide the backdrop for another potential comeback like the one famously fashioned against Barcelona two years ago.

Robertson believes the task that awaits them on Wednesday is equal to that which faced them after losing 3-0 to Lionel Messi-inspired opponents in the Nou Camp, when supporters played their part in the 4-0 home win.

“They are both as hard, and are different but same in their own way,” said the Scotland captain. “Barcelona that night was obviously an incredible night and wouldn’t have been possible without fans in there.

“The fans made us feel 10 feet tall and believe even more. We felt before that game we could overturn it. It’s a big task for us and isn’t the same as the Barcelona game. We can’t rely on the fact we came back in that game that we are going to come back in this one.

“People have maybe written us off, but we believe we can put in a better performance than last week and that’s the only way to give us a fighting chance. We believe we can win the game. If we do that it gives us a fighting chance; let’s see if it’s enough on the night. Fingers crossed it will be.”

Alexander-Arnold completes late Reds comeback


FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win against Aston Villa in the Premier League

How to follow

Follow Liverpool vs Real Madrid via our dedicated live blog on Sky Sports website and app on Tuesday; kick-off at 8pm.

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  • After winning their first three meetings with Real Madrid in European competition, Liverpool have lost each of their last four against the Spanish giants – against no side have they lost more (also 4 vs Benfica).
  • This will be Real Madrid’s third visit to Anfield to face Liverpool in European competition – they lost 0-4 in March 2009 and won 3-0 in October 2014 (both in UEFA Champions League).
  • Five of Liverpool’s 11 home defeats in the UEFA Champions League have come against Spanish opposition, while Real Madrid could become just the second side to win away against the Reds twice in the competition, after Barcelona.
  • Real Madrid have scored in each of their last 23 UEFA Champions League knockout stage matches since a goalless draw with Manchester City in the 2015-16 semi-final (50 goals).
  • Vinícius Júnior scored twice for Real Madrid in the first leg against Liverpool, as many goals as he’d netted in his first 17 appearances in the UEFA Champions League.
  • Mohamed Salah has scored in each of his last four UEFA Champions League appearances – the only Liverpool player to score in five consecutive European Cup/Champions League games is Steven Gerrard, who did so in the 2007-08 campaign.


Sergio Ramos tests positive for coronavirus

Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos has tested positive for coronavirus, the club said on Tuesday.

Ramos had already been ruled out of Real’s Champions League quarter-final second leg away to Liverpool on Wednesday after sustaining a calf injury while on international duty with Spain.

It comes after defender Raphael Varane tested positive for coronavirus last week and was forced to miss the first leg against the Reds.

He has been undergoing a period of self-isolation.

Real are already without Lucas Vazquez who is expected to be out for the rest of the season after damaging his posterior knee ligament (PCL) in the Clasico on Saturday.

Vazquez was replaced by Alvaro Odriozola after 43 minutes, having already set up a goal in the 2-1 victory. Federico Valverde was also taken off with a knock in the second half.

The 13-time European champions are 3-1 up against Liverpool from the first leg at Alfredo Di Stefano.

Vinicius Junior scored two of Real’s goals, one in each half, with Marco Asensio adding the other.

Perez re-elected as Real Madrid president

Florentino Perez  has been re-elected as President of Real Madrid
Florentino Perez has been re-elected as President of Real Madrid

Florentino Perez has been officially re-elected as president of Real Madrid until 2025 for a fifth consecutive term and sixth overall.

The 74-year-old ran unopposed in the election which was called by the club last week and was confirmed as the winner on Tuesday.

Perez has been serving as president of Real Madrid for 12 years since taking over from Ramon Calderon in June 2009.

He also held the post prior to Calderon’s reign, between 2000 and 2006.


Barca top Forbes rich list; Man Utd drop to fourth

Barcelona top the Forbes list of the world’s 20 most valuable football clubs for the first time.

Despite considerable financial debt of more than £1bn, Barca have knocked Real Madrid off their perch to second place.

The Catalans are valued at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), only narrowly ahead of Real’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).

Manchester United remain the most valuable Premier League club at £3.06bn ($4.2bn) – but have dropped from third to fourth in the world, behind Bayern Munich at £3.07bn ($4.215bn).

Liverpool (£2.98bn), Manchester City (£2.91bn), Chelsea (£2.33bn) and Arsenal (£2.04bn) follow on before Paris Saint-Germain (£1.82bn) and Tottenham (£1.67bn) – meaning six Premier League clubs still feature in the top 10.

Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford
Manchester United remain the most valuable British football club

Forbes’ release says Liverpool have seen an 88 percent rise in their value over the past two years, as they have clinched the Premier League and Champions League titles.

PSG’s move into the top 10 sees Juventus drop out from 2020’s valuations into 11th place.

Everton (£479m), West Ham (£369m) and Leicester (£331m) are also in the top 20 – the Foxes creeping in for the first time at number 19, above Eredivisie champions Ajax.

Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Roma are the other clubs to feature in the top 20.


Real’s Vazquez a doubt for Liverpool CL tie

Lucas Vazquez is a doubt for Real Madrid’s Champions League quarter-final second leg against Liverpool.

The Spanish league leaders have confirmed he has suffered a sprained knee ligament after being forced off in the Clasico win over Barcelona.

Vazquez was replaced by Alvaro Odriozola after 43 minutes, having already set up a goal in the 2-1 victory. Federico Valverde was also taken off with a knock in the second half.

Lucas Vazquez featured at right-back in the first-leg win over Liverpool
Lucas Vazquez featured at right-back in the first-leg win over Liverpool

Real Madrid said on Sunday: “Following tests carried out today on Lucas Vázquez by the Real Madrid Medical Services, he has been diagnosed with a sprain to the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee. His recovery will continue to be assessed.”

Also doubtful are centre-back pair Raphael Varane (Covid-19) and Sergio Ramos (calf injury) after they missed the first leg on April 6, which Real won 3-1.

A double from Vinicius Junior and a Marco Asensio goal sealed the first-leg win for Zinedine Zidane’s side.

It was the first time the sides faced each other since the 2018 Champions League final and Vazquez played the full match at the Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano.

After their victory in the league over Barcelona, Real Madrid are level on points with them at the summit of the Spanish top flight, having played a game more than their rivals.