As Liverpool prepare to welcome Real Madrid at Anfield tomorrow, their fans would have excitement and fear at the same time. It has been a long time since Liverpool have hosted a team of this stature in the Champions League and thus this would be a huge moment for the club. On the other hand, they would be facing a team of Madrid’s caliber who could run havoc through their defence.
Liverpool were very lucky to snatch a win against QPR in their last Premier League game after the London side hit two own goals. Their defence was all over the place and a misfiring Balotelli in front of the goal. The Reds run the same risk tomorrow as their defensive situation is noting to be proud of with only one clean sheet in the last ten matches.
Glen Johnson was awful in the previous match, but he may again be placed in the team if Rodgers do not risk putting Javier Manquillo in the mix of things. The other changes in the squad from the last match maybe Alberto Moreno in place of Jose Enrique. The young Spaniard was rested in the last match and tomorrow he may be back in his usual left back position. Emre Can should also sit on the bench and Philippe Coutinho be in the starting eleven after the Brazilian impressed one and all after coming on the pitch against QPR. This would mean Steven Gerrard play in a holding position like he did in the previous match after Can was taken off.
The main pressure to perform will be on Mario Balotelli who has not scored more than one goal since his transfer from AC Milan. With Sturridge still injured, Balotelli needs to step up and he knows that better than anyone else.
Real Madrid will field a strong squad against the English club as Ancelotti has decided to take a cautious approach and not be complacent. They will miss the services of Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, both of whom are out with injuries.
The Spanish club has scored 37 times in their last 10 matches and they will certainly test a poor Liverpool defence. Cristiano Ronaldo has never scored at Anfield and this will be a golden chance for the Portuguese star to turn the tables as he has already scored 17 this season. Isco is likely to replace Bale in the side as Real operate with a far better squad.
Karim Benzema will be back to the squad after he was rested against Levante over the weekend with a slight injury. The French man will have the likes of James Rodriguez for company.
Liverpool lost their last match against Basel and this could mean that they have to outplay themselves and get some kind of result from this match if they are to keep their Champions League dream alive. A stern test awaits for Rodgers and Gerrard.
Liverpool vs Real Madrid Possible starting lineups
Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Enrique; Allen, Henderson, Gerrard; Sterling, Balotelli, Lallana
Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; James, Benzema, Ronaldo
Liverpool vs Real Madrid Prediction:
A 1-3 win for the visitors