Classic European Night In Store For Reds
Spanish giants Real Madrid will make their way onto the Anfield turf on Wednesday night as Liverpool attempt to recreate one of numerous classic European nights in front of the Kop. With news filtering through that Gareth Bale will also be missing for the tie, every bonus will aid Brendan Rodgers' side as he searches for a landmark win.
Despite the Welshman being missing from their squad Real Madrid are also without Sergio Ramos who has a calf problem. For Liverpool they are without Daniel Sturridge, Mamadou Sakho and Jon Flanagan. Brendan Rodgers will select an XI from a now much stronger squad after boosts in fitness.
The last time the two sides met was in an unforgettable 4-0 win at Anfield back in March 2009. In one of the peak Rafa seasons, the Reds absolutely ripped apart Madrid with goals from Torres, Gerrard and Dossena.
Real Madrid have the small matter of Barcelona to deal with at the weekend and it will be hard for manager Carlo Ancelotti not to maintain one eye on that fixture. With this in mind, could it be a weakened XI fielded by the away side tomorrow? It's easy to presume Liverpool are currently a beatable side after following league performances however, form goes out the window in the Champions League. When you're playing under the floodlights in a game like this at Anfield, anything can happen.
Real Madrid are certainly not short of fire power having scored 10 goals in their last two league matches. By contrast, Liverpool have struggled in attack, despite scoring three against QPR (two of which were own goals) the Reds only have 13 goals in total for their league campaign so far this season.
Mario Balotelli has come under fire after his performance against QPR. I knew as soon as we signed him he would be a regular talking point on this blog, partly because I'm slightly obsessed with him but also because I knew he would split opinions and make headlines.
Balotelli has obviously not been up to par of late but as Brendan has come out and said he's a big game player and just you watch him go and bloody score the winner against Real Madrid now. Fact is, even if he managed that, there would still be a lot of criticism for him. Rightly or wrongly so, I still don't feel people are going to change their opinions and whilst Rodgers continues to play Balotelli without any real support, we will continue to see this poor side of him.
If I was picking the team tomorrow I'd play Borini up front with Balotelli to be honest. In the brief periods they have played together it has worked pretty well, plus they're both Italian, Italians have weird connections like twins yeah? Haha.
I'd also like to see Lucas in the midfield for this one or start Joe Allen. Both players add a much needed balance for me and work very well in a 4-4-2 set up.
The positive about tomorrow is that Real Madrid will come at us. Liverpool have looked very poor in the league so far but this is partly due to the set up and tactical decisions of the opposition. The one game Liverpool played well in was against Spurs and why? Because Pochettino sets his sides up to attack, they don't sit and block every move. Teams like QPR and West Ham have enforced the latter style against the Reds and then penalised our defensive weaknesses. Tomorrow whilst I still feel we will concede and possibly a few goals, I also think we'll find the back of the net because the likes of Sterling, Coutinho, Balotelli etc will have more freedom.
I asked you for your score predictions and here are a few of the tweets I received:
— Pat (@patfc91) October 21, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC 1-0 to the Redmen
— Atiqul Hussain (@atiqulhussain) October 21, 2014
@LFCKirstyLFC 2-1 Liverpool
— Kopite100 (@Kopite2014) October 21, 2014
I have to agree with Pat above for my prediction, if I was popping a quid on the scoreline I'd say 2-2 for the reasons briefly mentioned in the above paragraph. As always I hope for better but it's going to be a very tough game for the Reds tomorrow.
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!