Brendan Rodgers’ Reds welcome Real Madrid to Anfield on Wednesday night as they take on the current European champions in a mouth-watering clash and third Group B game.
Liverpool’s burning desire to return to Europe’s elite competition was all about the big nights against the giants of European football, and they don’t come much more glamorous than hosting the Champions League holders at Anfield and you can check Liverpool tickets here.
Rodgers’ men take on Carlo Ancelotti’s incredibly talented team that could pass for a World XI such is the strength of the side – in a game that they will be looking to bounce back from the 1-0 defeat against Swiss side Basel last time out and to get their European campaign back on track.
Rodgers: "You look at home games as opportunities to get the points in this competition"
— Neil Jones (@neiljonesgoal) October 21, 2014
Wednesday’s giant clash will be the second match in just four days for Rodgers’ men, who will unquestionably have to improve on their performance against QPR on Sunday if they want to get anything from what will be an extremely tough fixture.
A quiet spell away from Europe’s top table means it will be the first time the two clubs have commenced battle in five years – since the last 16 second leg meeting at Anfield in March 2009, which turned out to be another unforgettable night.
After securing a 1-0 win in Madrid, the Reds welcomed Juande Ramos’ team to Merseyside before proceeding to batter them 4-0 thanks to first half goals from Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard. The captain then added a third just after the break and Andrea Dossena sealed the win with his second memorable goal in a week.
Heading into Sunday’s abysmal match in London, there were question marks over Dejan Lovren’s fitness but the Croatian appeared to come through the fixture unscathed, meaning he looks set to continue at centre back with Martin Skrtel as Mamadou Sakho is still injured and Kolo Toure fourth choice.
Alberto Moreno could return to the starting XI in place of the woeful Jose Enrique after being rested for Sunday’s visit to the capital, and Javier Manquillo too will be hopeful of a recall ahead of Glen Johnson, after dropping to the bench following a busy international break with Spain under 21s.
Joe Allen and Philippe Coutinho will also both be hoping to return to the starting team on Wednesday, after they came on as second half substitutes to help rescue Sunday’s dramatic match at Loftus Road.
Rodgers: "It's only a matter of time before Mario gets his goals. He's getting himself in the right areas.
He's a good kid."
— James Pearce (@JamesPearceLFC) October 21, 2014
Mario Balotelli has come in for criticism for another abject display and game without a goal in the Premier League, but he could keep his place in the Liverpool attack where he’ll be hoping to this time be partnered rather than playing a lone role.
Carlo Ancelotti has begun his second season in charge of the Spanish giants after enjoying a successful debut campaign – winning the Copa Del Rey as well as the Champions League beating city rivals Atletico in the final.
The Italian manager will be looking to improve on a disappointing league campaign however, which saw Madrid finish in third place behind Barcelona and their local rivals, as well as looking to defend their European crown which so far has started strongly recording two wins from two games.
Bale and Ramos not travelling to Liverpool but Benzema/Varane are. Young Medran/Llorente also part of squad #realmadrid #liverpool #UCL
— Nicholas Rigg (@nicholasrigg) October 21, 2014
Big news ahead of the clash is that Madrid’s world record signing Gareth Bale and defender Sergio Ramos are both ruled out of the match – despite the Welshman being rested last Saturday in hope of him making Wednesday’s game – due to injury and haven’t travelled with the squad to Merseyside as a result.
Even with Bale and Ramos absent, the Spanish side arrive in Liverpool with a squad full to the brim of world class talent which is likely to include summer signings and World Cup stars Toni Kroos and James Rodriguez, along with Luka Modric, Raphael Varane, Sami Khedira and of course, Cristiano Ronaldo to name a few.
Gerrard on Ronaldo: "His game as gone to another level. Now he's arguably the best player in the world. He's taken the game to a new level."
— Tony Barrett (@TonyBarrett) October 21, 2014
Anfield is set to welcome the return of a familiar face in consistent right back Alvaro Arbeloa, who left Liverpool to move to the Spanish club in summer 2009 after only two-and-a-half years on Merseyside.
The match is big for both sides with Madrid looking to continue their straightforward route into the next round and Liverpool in need of a result to keep their ambitions of progressing from the group alive, and the mammoth encounter will be shown live on Sky Sports 2 with kick off at Anfield coming at 19:45pm.