The Champions League returns this week with two of European footballs most decorated teams going head to head. Five-time winners Liverpool will welcome ten-time champions Real Madrid to Anfield in what promises to be another great European night on Merseyside.
On the face of it, this game looks to be rather one-sided with the Spanish side enjoying a decent run of form while Liverpool have stumbled disappointingly out of the blocks this season. But this is European football; and this is Anfield: There have been some dramatic results in this stadium over the years and these big home games seem to bring out the best in the Reds.
Madrid will be without the world’s most expensive footballer as Gareth Bale is set to miss out through injury but they still have an impressive line-up of world class talent at their disposal. Ronaldo has already bagged an incredible 17 goals in the league and Europe this season which is in stark contrast to Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli who has managed just one. Brendan Rodgers will still be without Daniel Sturridge, who has had a setback in his recovery from injury, and will be hoping that some of his new signings can find form in this game.
Another worrying stat for Brendan Rodger’s team will be the fact that Los Blancos have scored a total of 37 goals this season with 19 of those being scored away. That is an average of 3.8 goals per away game in all competitions. Liverpool have managed just 16 goals all season – which is less than Ronaldo. Combine this with the fact that Liverpool have not kept a clean sheet at Anfield this year and things do not look great for the home team.
However, Liverpool do have history on their side and will be boosted by the fact that Real Madrid have never beaten them or scored a goal against them in their previous meetings. On their last visit to Anfield, the Spanish giants were cut down to size after being humiliated 4-0 by a Liverpool team coached by Rafa Benitez. It is for this reason that Real Madrid may approach this game with more caution than usual and employ a counter-attacking approach. The absence of Karim Benzema could also offer a glimmer of hope to the team in red.
The stats point to a Madrid win but the bookies will not do you any favours with the price. To find any value, a braver approach is needed and with Madrid already coasting in this group and a meeting against Barcelona looming on Saturday, they may just be happy to take a draw from Merseyside.
Match prediction: Draw 31/10 with Boylesports