One of the most challenging (and fun) parts of handicapping the Champions League is trying to figure out how the game state affects the matchup in the second leg.
Real Madrid defeated Liverpool, 5-2, on the road in the first leg of their Round of 16 encounter.
That means the Reds need to defeat the title-holders by three goals inside 90 minutes to just force extra-time.
A four-goal win by Liverpool means it advances.
Liverpool has mounted dramatic comebacks in the Champions League before, but oddsmakers aren’t giving them much of a chance here.
The Reds are +1600 to make it to the quarterfinals.
Real Madrid vs. Liverpool pick
While Liverpool is a long shot to make it beyond this round, the three-way moneyline is tight. Madrid is a +130 home favorite, while Liverpool is sitting at +180.
The game state is probably playing a role in the odds being close.
Liverpool will have to throw everything at Madrid, who can afford a more pragmatic approach to this contest with a three-goal lead.
That means handicappers need to script out how they think the 5-2 edge for Madrid will impact how this match plays out.
My favorite angle is it makes Madrid a great live-betting opportunity if they go down early — or even if the game is tied after the first 30 minutes or so.
Liverpool has no choice but throw everything forward from the first minute.
Few teams in the world can feel even remotely confident of turning a three-goal deficit around at the Santiago Bernabeu, but Liverpool will count themselves among them.
The Reds are a quick-striking offensive team that can create opportunities from nothing, so it wouldn’t be a shock for Liverpool to make a game of this.
That said, Liverpool’s defense is not built for this kind of gamescript.
In year’s past, the Reds were able to take chances on counterattacks because their transition defense was superb, but that isn’t the case anymore.
Liverpool is vulnerable when they turn the ball over and Madrid is a wonderful, clinical counterattacking side with an adaptable manager that will set them up to exploit the fact that their opposition will need to take risk after risk to get back into this match.
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And it’s not like Liverpool needs just one goal to get back into this thing.
Even if the Reds do score early, they’ll need to keep the pressure one to get a second and third against one of the best teams in the world.
That will lead to a lot of space in behind the backline for Madrid to use to their advantage.
Similarly, if the game remains nil-nil after 20-30 minutes, Liverpool will need to ramp things up even further to try and spark something, which again, will leave them vulnerable in the back.
It may seem like Liverpool is built for situations like this, but the truth is that Madrid is as well.
Keep an eye out for live-betting opportunities on the Spanish giants should they go down early in this affair.