Champions League

Reds don't fear rampant Real

2014-11-03 21:50
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)
Madrid - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has claimed his players should be inspired by their daunting trip to European champions Real Madrid rather than afraid of facing a side that have scored 46 goals in their last 11 games.

Madrid eased past Rodgers's men 3-0 at Anfield two weeks ago and can book their place in the last 16 with victory at the Santiago Bernabeu on Tuesday.

However, Rodgers insists he isn't planning on damage limitation as Liverpool look to see off Basel and Champions League debutants Ludogorets Razgrad for second place in Group B.

"We are still very much in the hunt to qualify from the group, it's still very much in our hands," he said on Monday.

"We go into the game respecting the opponent, they are probably the best team in the world with some outstanding players, but if we can find the intensity and speed to our game from over the last 18 months we can challenge any team.

"When you come up against the best opponents that is the challenge which brings out the best in you. They are in a great moment and for us it is a great opportunity. We are not coming here thinking this is a game to lose and look at the other games to quality.

"We showed in the previous game, even though the score was 3-0, that we had moments when we can hurt people and that will be the key tomorrow."

A litany of defensive mistakes have in particular caused problems for Rodgers this season, as they have slumped to six defeats in just 13 Premier League and Champions League games.

Yet, Rodgers insisted he wouldn't change his philosophy of playing attacking football even against one of the most feared attacks in Europe.

"Of course we want to be better, the frustration has been the mistakes, the sloppy goals we have given away and that is something we want to eradicate.

"However, this philosophy has gotten us here tonight. You're not sat back with nine players behind the ball, you're trying to entertain the supporters by playing creative, attacking football.

"The goal we conceded on Saturday was disappointing and we have to eradicate that if we are going to develop and improve."

The biggest challenge of all for the five-time European champions will be stopping the rampant Cristiano Ronaldo, who is on the verge of becoming the top-scorer in Champions League history.

Ronaldo's opener at Anfield took him to within one goal of Real Madrid legend Raul's 71-goal record haul in the competition and Rodgers is hoping to at least delay the former Manchester United man's celebrations for another few weeks.

"Cristiano Ronaldo is probably the best player in the world. He has been impressive for a number of years and at this moment in time he is playing with great confidence and enthusiasm.

"He is the catalyst of that team. An outstanding player and someone you can clearly see loves his football. Let's hope he doesn't score too many more tomorrow and we will work hard to get a good result."

Meanwhile, midfielder Jordan Henderson said taking on Madrid at the Bernabeu offered the players a chance to prove the criticism they have received so far this season has been misplaced.

"We've got some very good teams in the group but I feel we've got the quality to win the games to get out of it," said the England international.

"It's a huge game. Playing in the Champions League against the best teams in Europe. Real Madrid are that, especially at the moment, but it is also a great opportunity to show what we can do and prove a few people wrong."

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