Dashed dreams of La Decima: Real Madrid's 11 years of hurt in Europe
2008/09 (Round of 16 vs Liverpool)
Score: Real Madrid 0-1 Liverpool; Liverpool 4-0 Real Madrid (Liverpool win 5-0 on aggregate)
La Liga position: 2nd
Any other business? In a relatively barren season there was, at least, hope in the form of a breakthrough year from young Argentine striker Gonzalo Higuain – whose 24 goals served notice of plenty more to come.
The irascible Schuster had, in a night-follows-day development, been replaced by Juande Ramos two months before this tie with Liverpool, who were enjoying their best domestic season of the Premier League era. Two group stage defeats to Juventus had cast doubt upon Real’s preparedness to take on the best, but they could barely have expected what followed here. Conceding to a Yossi Benayoun header doesn’t amount to anything better than a dereliction of duty, but that’s exactly what an experienced defence achieved eight minutes from the end of what had, in truth, been a drab first leg at the Bernabeu.
An old foe would blow them away in the return leg – a game that fitted the ‘magical European night at Anfield’ mould. Ex-Atletico man Fernando Torres was in his pomp around this time, and put Liverpool ahead after 16 minutes. By the 47th minute Steven Gerrard had scored another couple, one a penalty, and Andrea Dossena’s completely unchallenged late fourth underlined the fact that, somehow, Real had found yet another novel way of putting their Decima claims on hold for another year.