The Champions League groups are midway through and Liverpool have a lot of work to be done if they are to qualify for the knockout rounds. In Group B, Ludogorets. FC Basel and Liverpool are all on three points, with Ludogorets’ win over FC Basel providing a huge boost to Liverpool’s campaign as it means two victories in their final two group games should be enough to progress, making this week’s trip to the Bernabeu a bonus match. Real Madrid are able to secure qualification this week with a win over the Reds and it’s difficult to see how the away side can get anything from Tuesday’s match given the scintillating form that Real Madrid are in at the moment.
Liverpool will be bitterly disappointed with their form at the moment, their defence is lacking organisation and concentration, with Dejan Lovren coming in for stick from the fans, while going forwards they lack creativity. This is a huge difference to the Liverpool side from last season, who were free scoring and looked like a quality side that could challenge in the Champions League. This season it looks a huge ask for the Reds to make headway on the continent. Their weekend loss to Newcastle was laboured, and the desire from last season has diminished, the side isn’t pressing to the extent they were last season and Mario Balotelli has yet to make the impact that Rodgers earmarked for him to make.
Meanwhile Real Madrid continue to go from strength to strength with a 4-0 win over Granada at the weekend. The front three has come into devastating form, with Cristiano Ronaldo, James Rodriguez (2) and Karim Benzema all scoring at the weekend. That win has taken them to the top of La Liga, a week after dominating Barcelona in El Clasico. It’s clear this Madrid side can dominate domestically and in Europe. They certainly have the ability to successfully defend their European crown and Liverpool could be in for an embarrassing night if they don’t improve from their recent performances in the league.
In the meeting two weeks ago, Real Madrid were comfortable 3-0 winners, with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring a wonderful goal, before Karim Benzema netted two. Liverpool were bright during the early exchanges, but they ultimately couldn’t deal with the world class attack that Real Madrid possess. They need to offer more of a goal threat this week in the Bernabeu, as Raphael Varane and Pepe were too comfortable at Anfield.
- Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored 20 goals this season in all competitions. This is more than Liverpool in the league and the Champions League combined.
- Only one side has conceded more goals than Liverpool in the top 8 of the Premier League, highlighting their frailties at the back. They are conceding more than a goal a game on average.
He is the best player in the world at the moment, and his return of 20 goals by November is incredible. In a Real Madrid side filled with World Cup and Champions League winners, he remains head and shoulders their best player. He is now 29 years old and he may not have many years left at the very top, but at the moment, he is in his prime and Liverpool have a huge task on their hands to prevent him scoring at the Bernabeu on Tuesday. The Portugal international is incredible at finding space, while his movement troubles the very best defenders in the world, but he is at his most dangerous when he is driving at defenders, with his pace and skill. Liverpool will have to prevent the forward getting space in the area as he is one of, if not the best finisher in world football and he will punish sides if given even half a chance in front of goal.
Liverpool can’t go to the Bernabeu and play defensively, they have neither the players or the mentality to do so effectively, if they do, then it could become embarrassing for Brendan Rodgers. They need to commit players going forward and get the ball to the likes of Raheem Sterling and Philippe Coutinho in the final third, as both can create chances for Mario Balotelli. Neither were involved much against Newcastle and that was why Liverpool were poor. Their success last season was down to their attack and these two can produce moments of quality at the highest level. The Brazilian only has one goal this season and he is yet to notch an assist, these are numbers he must improve in the coming weeks, but it is undoubted that he has the quality to become a key player for Liverpool this season.
The big team news for Real Madrid is that Gareth Bale could be in line for his return from injury, possibly in place of Isco. Meanwhile James Rodriguez, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos are all expected to start. Dani Carvajal could return to the Champions League fold, after Alvaro Arbeloa played in the match at Anfield.
Adam Lallana could start after sitting out of the weekend’s defeat at Newcastle. Mario Balotelli is expected to retain his place, despite the spotlight on his performances of late. Jose Enrique, Mamadou Sakho, Jon Flanagan and Daniel Sturridge are all expected to be missing this week.
I think it will be tough for an out of form Liverpool to go to the Bernabeu and get anything from the game. I expect them to have phases in the game in which they dominate the play, but the lack of a final product and a fragile defence mean it’s unlikely they can put a solid performance in over 90 minutes to avoid defeat in Spain. Cristiano Ronaldo is likely to get another goal, while Bale could put in a performance on his return to the side.
Real Madrid 4-1 Liverpool