The last time Real Madrid and Liverpool met at a European cup final it ended in tears.
It’s like it was yesterday (though it was April 2018) when Madrid defender Sergio Ramos locked arms with Egyptian winger Mo Salah and threw him to the ground in a brutal tackle. It was the thud that was heard around the world — echoed by the heart-drop of millions of Reds fans who had just watched their dreams shatter, along with Salah’s right arm that absorbed all of his bodyweight.
The tearful 25-year-old curled up into the grass with (what he would later discover was) a sprained shoulder and, evidently, a broken heart.
Salah's ambitions of cinching his first Champions League title — after a 13-year wait for Liverpool, who had last won it in 2005 — were snuffed out in that nightmarish moment, which also put into doubt whether he’d be able to play in the World Cup 2018 for Egypt (he was later deemed fit).
It’s unclear where Salah and Ramos stand today outside of some passive aggressive comments in the media. If we were to hazard a wild guess, these two aren’t checking up on each other over FaceTime or exchanging banter on WhatsApp.
A couple months later, Ramos received the 2017-18 Champions League Best Defender of the Season Award and, on his way back from the stage to his seat, made the brazen split-second decision to touch Salah’s arm. The moment went viral as Salah’s deadpan face remained stony as ever.
The good news is: Liverpool went on to win the Champions League the following year.
But, as always in football, it isn't over. The two teams are set to meet again at the quarter finals of the Champions League next month, with leg 1 taking place on April 6 at 10pm (UAE time) and leg 2 kicking off on April 13 at the same time.
Hopefully there won’t be need for medics and stretchers this time. Real Madrid, who’ve won 13 Champions League titles, are the most successful team in the history of the competition and will be looking to keep that tally up.
Liverpool — who have six CL wins total — will be looking to redeem a wretched English Premier League season that saw them dawdling towards the middle of the table, rather than effectively defending their title.
But that’s not the only CL face-off that’s sure to be tense.
German giants Bayern Munich, the reigning champions of Europe, will once again go head-to-head with French side Paris St-Germain. PSG will have a chance to reverse their doomed fate from last season, when they lost the final in a 1-0 result against Bayern. (That match, incidentally, also ended in tears for players like Neymar.) What made it more heart-wrenching was the fact that it was PSG’s first time to the finals of the competition after a record 110 Champions League matches played.
Could they pull a Liverpool and make second time the charm? Only one of these two big teams will make it to the semi-finals, and it's sure be electrifying either way.
Meanwhile, Manchester City will take on German side Borussia Dortmund — and both teams are expected to be hungry for a win. City, currently top of the table in the EPL, have never won a Champions League title, while Dortmund have only won one back in 1997.
Last but not least, Porto — who knocked Juventus out of the competition — will take on Chelsea, who find themselves in the quarterfinals for the first time in seven years.
Here are when the final eight fixtures will take place (local UAE time):
Man City vs Dortmund (Leg 1: April 6, 10pm, Leg 2: April 13, 10pm)
Porto vs Chelsea (Leg 1: April 6, 10pm, Leg 2: April 13, 10pm)
Bayern Munich vs PSG (Leg 1: April 6, 10pm / Leg 2: April 13, 10pm)
Real Madrid vs Liverpool (Leg 1: April 6, 10pm / Leg 2: April 13, 10pm)