It’s been five years since Liverpool thrashed the then nine time Champions League winners Real Madrid to book a place in the last eight of the 2009 Champions League. Since then, the players and the Madridistas all over the world are seeking revenge against the Reds. Now the time has come for “Ten Time Winners” and defending Champions Real Madrid to settle their old scores against the Five time Champions League winners from Merseyside. All eyes will be on Real Madrid’s goal machine Cristiano Ronaldo who is just a goal away from equalling Raul’s record of 71 Champions League goals.
After a 0-3 drubbing at Anfield, Liverpool will look to bounce back and give everything to save some pride at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu. Both these teams come into this clash with contrasting forms. Los Blancos are on an 11 match winning streak and their rivals just lost their Premier League match to relegation battling Newcastle United. Liverpool will be sweating out on their new signing and striker Mario Balotelli to step up his Game in the Daniel Sturridge. Brendon Rodgers is all set to make a gamble by starting Steven Gerrard on the bench as they play Chelsea this weekend. In that case, Jordon Henderson will wear the captain’s armband.
Liverpool will need someone to back their lone shining star of the season Raheem Sterling. The 19 year old Jamaican born English Winger has been a threat to the opposition since the start of the season. He hardly gets support from his teammates which can be one of the reason for Liverpool’s downfall this season. On the other hand, Brazillian Midfielder Phillip Coutinho, showed some glimpses of his talent and how destructive he can be if he gets some support from the strikers. If Balotelli manages to return to form, then it will do a lot of good against Liverpool. Emre Can and Joe Allen need to be on their toes to stop Real Madrid from counters. A win at the Bernabeu will give the Reds a lot of confidence in their coming matches and it will change their fortunes for the rest of the season.
Real Madrid, who are making the defenders of each and every team look like mediocre amateurs will be hoping to run riot against the Liverpool defence which is considered as one of the weakest in the Premier League. The return of their winger Gareth Bale to the playing XI will boost their attack against the defence led by Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren. In the first leg, Liverpool’s defence was exposed in the first half as Ronaldo and co kept on pressing the attacking button before slowing down in the second half as a precautionary measure ahead of the El Clasico which was just two days away then. Full-back Glen Johnson looked susceptible against Marcelo and Cristiano Ronaldo on Real Madrid’s left.
New signing James Rodriguez, has been proving his critics wrong as he is exhibiting what he is capable of. His crosses into the box are deadly and the likes of Ronaldo, Benzema and Bale will look to capitalize on them. It can’t be a surprise if Real Madrid decides to rest James who is continuously playing for them for the last few weeks might be given a rest from the Playing XI. Luka Modric and Toni Kroos hold key in Real Madrid fortunes as they are the ones who supply the balls from the defensive half.
With Bale out for the last three weeks, Isco won the confidence of his manager and will be pushing hard for a spot in the playing XI. Having said that, the headache for Carlo Ancelotti is to form a squad that can include all the match-winners. The Real Madrid defence, which was initially criticized has come good in the recent matches.
Liverpool will have a task cut out in stopping the Real Madrid’s Juggernaut. An exciting match is on the cards at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid which is all set to begin at 20:45 GMT (1:15 AM IST).
Possible Playing XI:
Real Madrid (4-3-3): Iker Casillas; Alvaro Arbeloa-Pepe-Sergio Ramos-Marcelo; Kroos-Modric-Isco; Ronaldo- Benzema- Bale.
Liverpool (4-2-3-1): Simon Mignolet; Glen Johnson-Martin Skrtel- Sakho- Alberto Moreno; Joe Allen- Emre Can; Jordon Henderson- Raheem Sterling- Phillip Coutinho; Mario Balotelli.
Considering the current form of these two teams and the match is taking place at the Bernabeu, it is certain that home team will come out victorious in a Madridisque score line of 4-0.
In the other Group B game, Ludogorets, who posted their first ever UEFA Champions League group stage win with a 90th minute winner against the Swiss side at home wll face the same opposition in Switzerland. This might be a little too much for the tiny Bulgarian club who will give a tough fight as they did at Anfield few match days back. This is a game that Basel should win and provide them the catapult to qualify for the next round.