Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Madrid
4 November 2014, 20:45 GMT
In Group B, Ludogorets, FC Basel and Liverpool are all on three points, while Real Madrid sit comfortably on top with 9 points. Ludogorets’ win over FC Basel gave Liverpool a huge push as it means that if the Reds win against Basel and Ludogorets in the final two games, they would progress to the knockouts. This means that tomorrow’s game is a bonus for the Reds. Real Madrid, meanwhile, would be able to seal their progression with a win over Liverpool this week itself.
Team News, Tactical Brief and Predicted Line-ups
The Los Blancos have bagged the maximum points available till now and would be extremely confident having beaten their Merseyside rivals comprehensively last time out while playing at Anfield. They are also leading the La Liga courtesy of Barcelona’s shock 1-0 defeat to Celta Vigo over the weekend.
Carlo Ancelotti has done a fantastic job with the European Champions. While Real were always a footballing powerhouse in Europe, they somehow managed to fall one step short in Europe. Ancelotti is building on from the success of last season and his ideas look increasingly implemented with the Madrid giants this season. He has hardly made a wrong decision this time around and would hope his job is as easy as it was at Anfield.
Gareth Bale is back in the side but Ancelotti has remained coy on what part he would play, if any, in the CL fixture. If Bale is fit enough to start the game, he would take in-form Isco’s position on the right wing. Isco has fully lived up to all the hype surrounding him following his move from Malaga last season. To be fair to the Spaniard, his chances were very limited in the previous campaign. This time, he has got more game time and has looked very impressive in Real’s attack. He caused Liverpool some serious problems in the previous game and would be as big a threat as Gareth Bale if he starts.
Ancelotti could also give Chicharito a start in this game. With Madrid’s qualification to the knockouts all but confirmed, the Italian manager might want to rest his no. 1 striker and give on loan forward Hernandez a go. The Manchester United player has enough experience against Liverpool and could be as much of a threat.
The rest of the line-up is expected to be the same as in the previous round. We can certainly expect more fireworks from Cristiano Ronaldo at the Bernabeu though as Real play this game without the worries of a looming El Clasico game in a few days as was the case last time out.
Predicted Line-up (4-3-3): Casillas; Arbeloa, Pepe, Varane, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Rodriguez; Isco, Ronaldo, Benzema
Liverpool have been a supremely disappointing side to watch this season. The visitors enter this game on the back of a poor 0-1 loss to Newcastle United that saw one of the worst performances by the Reds in the last eighteen months or so.
What has been the Reds’ biggest weakness this season is a question posed by many but answered succinctly by few. To underline one as the ‘biggest’ weakness is a tough ask, but one of the major ones has been the lack of creativity. There was absolutely nothing happening for the Reds especially in the final third and this despite them enjoying about 60% of the possession against Newcastle. Liverpool have not succeeded with possession based football (2012-13). They do well with a fast paced game, something that evades them completely at the moment.
Rodgers will have to do something different to get the Merseyside club out of the slump. He needs to have a managerial masterclass. The highly flexible and impressive manager from the last season has been stubborn and at times even arrogant in his ways this time out. Despite Liverpool playing very well against Swansea in the League Cup with a diamond formation last week, the Northern Irishman chose to persist with one striker in the league fixture over the weekend. If he wants anything out of this game, he shouldn’t use Balotelli alone up front.
Daniel Sturridge has traveled with the rest of the team but Rodgers maintained that his involvement will be unlikely. The much missed Englishman is likely to don a Liverpool jersey only after the international break. The paucity of goals in this Liverpool side has been shocking to say the least, and the rest of the team – who sometime look like they’ve given up even before 30 minutes are up – need to give their heart and soul into a game which can bring them massive confidence for the weekend game against Chelsea, if they get something out of it and put up a good performance.
Javier Manquillo and Adam Lallana should replace Glen Johnson and Philippe Coutinho in the starting line-up. The rest of the team would likely be the same as against Newcastle
Predicted Line-up (4-3-2-1): Mignolet; Manquillo, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Gerrard, Henderson, Allen; Sterling, Lallana; Balotelli
- Cristiano Ronaldo has already scored 20 goals this season in all competitions. This is more than what Liverpool have netted in all their domestic and European outings put together this season.
- 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.
Players To Look Out For
Isco (Real Madrid), Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid)
Real Madrid 4 Liverpool 0
With the form the Reds are in at the moment, it is difficult to predict anything better for the side. Expect Cristiano Ronaldo to have another goal-fest. With the defensive frailties displayed in the Liverpool back-line, the Real players might actually have an easy job on Tuesday night. Real might do one goal better than in the last game. Let’s not forget, they are at home this time!
Blast From The Past