Real Madrid v Liverpool
Tuesday 4th of November
UEFA Champions League
When this match was first reported, the Liverpool supporters were mostly overjoyed. It was the chance for the runners up of the Premier League last season, to play the ten times Champions of Europe, Real Madrid.
After the torrid last few weeks and with the Newcastle defeat still fresh in the memory, most fans are fearing the worst in Spain.
The Bernabeu however, is not anything like Anfield. It does not create the same levels of noise and displays of passion. It has been said to be more like playing in a theatre, then a football stadium. That said, there is still a aura in and around the place!
The 3-0 defeat at Anfield two weeks ago and the ongoing form that Cristiano Ronaldo is in, (22 goals in 15 appearances) is more then enough to give Brendan Rogers sleepless nights.
His ability as a Manager and tactician will be tested to the limits. It will be essential that he selects the correct starting 11. A good early start is key. The defence will need to be on their toes and fully focused on the Madrid attack. The final ball must be better then it has been.
There will not be many chances on the night, so when they happen, the players will need to make the right call! Bags of composure will be needed!
The Reds will have to also stop Modric and Kroos from taking over the game in midfield. At Anfield they controlled the midfield and were given too much time and space on the ball. A few nice and hard early tackles will give the message that the Reds are well up for the game!
If Liverpool can defend better and manage to play on the counter attack, then Gerrard and Coutinho will be vital in creating the chances. Stevie has the ability to pinpoint a pass and Phil has shown this season, he has the movement and determination to make things happen.
Sterling will also be required to part his part. His pace against the older Madrid defence could open some doors. The question next is, does the side have somebody to finish the chances?
The question most fans want answering is, if Mario Balotelli will start? and if yes, will Rogers give him a strike partner. Mario is not cut out to be a lone wolf. His body language over the early part of the season has told us all, how unhappy he is at being asked to play alone. He is a man for the big occasions, lets all hope he turns up tomorrow night and is ready to fight for the cause!
Going into the game, Liverpool can take heart from the fact, that during the first 20 odd minutes at Anfield, they were playing fairly well. Ronaldo was quiet early on and things were looking good. Then within a few minutes, Ronaldo showed his true class! Add a returning Gareth Bale to the Madrid line up and the Reds will need to play their game of the season even to stand a chance of securing a point.
If Real win, they will qualify, meaning the Reds will have to win the remaining two games to stand a chance of making the next stage. Not impossible, but Real may ease off in final two games and may of course end up dropping points.
The Red half of Liverpool will be 100% behind the side and hoping and praying for at least a point! The supporters can at least think back to the famous 1-0 victory in the Bernabeu under Rafa.
Possible line up’s:
Real: Casillas; Carvjal, Pepe, Ramos, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos; Rodriguez, Bale, Ronaldo; Benzema
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Gerrard, Lallana; Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling; Balotelli