Champions League

Eyes on Reds, Real strikers

2014-10-21 08:36
Cristiano Ronaldo (Supplied)
Cristiano Ronaldo (Supplied)

London - Liverpool and Real Madrid meet in a heavyweight Champions League match on Wednesday with their star strikers going through contrasting fortunes in front of goal.

Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo is two goals away from the Champions League group-stage scoring record of 71 goals held by Raul Gonzalez, another attacking great who wore the white shirt of the Spanish giants.

Ronaldo has scored in both of Madrid's wins so far in Group B and has established the best-ever scoring start to a Spanish league season with 15 goals through the first eight rounds.

By contrast, Mario Balotelli has netted just once in nine games in all competitions for Liverpool since his move from AC Milan in August, with the Italy striker's overall contribution to the team also being widely criticized.

Liverpool have a win and a loss from their first two games but are a club that thrives on big European nights at Anfield — and it doesn't come any bigger than the visit of the reigning 10-time champions.

If Ronaldo is to match — or surpass — Raul's haul of Champions League goals on Wednesday, he'll have to end his scoring drought at Anfield.

In five matches there while playing for Manchester United, Ronaldo never found the net. He scored two goals in nine games against Liverpool during his six-year spell at United from 2003-09.

The Portugal forward is in prime shape to continue his amazing spree, though, with Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti saying: "It is impossible to do more than what he is doing."

Liverpool's defense has kept just one clean sheet in 11 matches this season.

Another member of Madrid's star-studded attack, Gareth Bale, is likely to miss the match because of a muscle injury that meant he was an unused substitute in the team's 5-0 win over Levante in the Spanish league on Saturday.

The winger also is expected to be a doubt for next weekend's "clasico" against Barcelona with the injury, which Madrid described as "a lesion in the right piriformis muscle" in his buttocks.

If Bale is absent, Francisco "Isco" Alarcon could earn a start behind Ronaldo and Karim Benzema.

Madrid is one of three teams on a maximum six points, after beating Basel 5-1 and Ludogorets 2-1.

With Daniel Sturridge having missed five weeks with a hamstring injury and potentially out for another month with a calf problem, the scoring burden at Liverpool is falling to Balotelli.

And he's not delivering.

His only goal in nearly two months at Liverpool was in the 2-1 win over Ludogorets, a lovely control and finish that was Balotelli at his best.

Unfortunately those moments have been too fleeting. Missing an open goal from eight meters out against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday summed up the start to his career at Liverpool, where fans are bemoaning the departure of the free-scoring Luis Suarez to Barcelona.

With Suarez and Sturridge up front last season, Liverpool had the liveliest strikeforce in England.

Liverpool and Madrid have met three times in competitive play — and Liverpool has won every time.

Their most famous clash was in the 1981 European Cup final in Paris, with Liverpool winning 1-0 thanks to Alan Kennedy's 81st-minute goal.

Their other meetings came in the last 16 of the Champions League in 2009. Liverpool won 5-0 on aggregate over two legs — the 4-0 result in the return match was Madrid's heaviest away defeat in Europe.

The two teams have won Europe's biggest club prize 15 times between them. The last of Liverpool's five titles came in 2005 against AC Milan, which was coached at the time by Ancelotti.

Matches against Real and Liverpool gave Ludogorets Razgrad a tough introduction to life in Europe's elite.

And a pair of 2-1 losses showed the Bulgarian wasn't fazed in the company of two of the continent's biggest clubs.

The next challenge? Getting a win. And three points against Basel would taste extra sweet.

Ludogorets is aiming for revenge after losing to the Swiss team in last season's Champions League qualification playoff, 6-2 on aggregate.

Ludogorets coach Georgi Dermendzhiev is expected to pick an unchanged team from the match against Real although he could be forced to replace midfielder Hristo Zlatinski, who was involved in a car accident during the weekend.

Zlatinski did not suffer any serious injuries.               


What To Read Next


Read News24’s Comments Policy publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.
Live Video Streaming
Video Highlights
Sport Talk

01 November 2016
Besiktas v Napoli, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Celtic, Borussia-Park 21:45
Benfica v Dynamo Kyiv, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Barcelona, Etihad Stadium 21:45
PSV v FC Bayern München, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Paris Saint-Germain, St Jakob-Park 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v Arsenal, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v FC Rostov, Vicente Calderon 21:45
02 November 2016
FC Porto v Club Brugge, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Juventus v Lyon, Juventus Stadium 21:45
FC København v Leicester City, Parken Stadion 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Real Madrid, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Sevilla v Dinamo Zagreb, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Sporting Lisbon, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v CSKA Moscow, Stade Louis II 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Wembley 21:45
22 November 2016
CSKA Moscow v Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Arena CSKA 19:00
Sporting Lisbon v Real Madrid, Estadio Jose Alvalade 21:45
Leicester City v Club Brugge, King Power Stadium 21:45
Dinamo Zagreb v Lyon, Maksimir 21:45
FC København v FC Porto, Parken Stadion 21:45
Sevilla v Juventus, Ramon-Sanchez Pizjuan 21:45
Borussia Dortmund v Legia Warsaw, Signal Iduna Park 21:45
Monaco v Tottenham Hotspur, Stade Louis II 21:45
23 November 2016
FC Rostov v FC Bayern München, Olimp-2 Stadium 19:00
Besiktas v Benfica, Vodafone Arena 19:45
Borussia Mönchengladbach v Manchester City, Borussia-Park 21:45
Celtic v Barcelona, Celtic Park 21:45
Arsenal v Paris Saint-Germain, Emirates Stadium 21:45
Napoli v Dynamo Kyiv, San Paolo 21:45
Ludogorets Razgrad v FC Basel, Vasil Levski National Stadium 21:45
Atlético de Madrid v PSV, Vicente Calderon 21:45
06 December 2016
FC Bayern München v Atlético de Madrid, Allianz Arena 21:45
Barcelona v Borussia Mönchengladbach, Camp Nou 21:45
Benfica v Napoli, Estadio da Luz 21:45
Manchester City v Celtic, Etihad Stadium 21:45
Dynamo Kyiv v Besiktas, Kiev Olympic Stadium 21:45
Paris Saint-Germain v Ludogorets Razgrad, Parc des Princes 21:45
PSV v FC Rostov, Philips Stadion 21:45
FC Basel v Arsenal, St Jakob-Park 21:45
07 December 2016
Bayer 04 Leverkusen v Monaco, BayArena 21:45
FC Porto v Leicester City, Estadio do Dragao 21:45
Club Brugge v FC København, Jan Breydelstadion 21:45
Juventus v Dinamo Zagreb, Juventus Stadium 21:45
Lyon v Sevilla, Parc OL 21:45
Legia Warsaw v Sporting Lisbon, Pepsi Arena 21:45
Real Madrid v Borussia Dortmund, Santiago Bernabeu 21:45
Tottenham Hotspur v CSKA Moscow, Wembley 21:45
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Team P W PTS
Previous Results

Date Home Team Result Away Team

Who will be the 2015/16 Champions League top scorer?

Love 2 Meet
Sport24 on Twitter

Follow Sport24 news on Twitter


With the Absa Premiership in full swing, who will be crowned champions when all is said and done? Will Mamelodi Sundowns defend their title? Or can Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates or Bidvest Wits mount a serious challenge? Stay glued to Sport24 to find out!

Latest blogs

Twitter Follow Sport24 on Twitter

Facebook "Like" Sport24's Facebook page

WIN Enter and win with Sport24!

BlackBerry Stay in the loop on your BlackBerry

RSS Feeds Sport news delivered really simply.

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.