Champions League

Reds to respect CL minnows

2014-09-15 17:30
Brendan Rodgers (AFP)

Liverpool - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has promised to treat Champions League outsiders Ludogorets with the utmost respect when the little-known Bulgarian side make their debut in the group stage of the competition at Anfield on Tuesday.

"We'll respect them like we would if we were playing Real Madrid," Rodgers told a news conference on Monday.

Saturday's 1-0 home defeat by Aston Villa should help the Premier League side avoid any complacency and the manner of it convinced Rodgers that his new-look defence must improve.

Liverpool have kept a clean sheet in only one of their four games this season and two in 13 going back to last March.

"We need to be better in those areas," the manager admitted.

"We were disappointed with how we conceded a goal at the weekend. We had five players making their Anfield debut and the cohesion does take a little bit of time."

It will be Rodgers's first match in charge for any Champions League tie and Liverpool's first since December 2009.

"Five years is a long time, probably too long," he said.

"When I came here my main priority was to get the club back to this level.

"We want to be at the elite level and the Champions League is that."

Asked about Ludogorets, Bulgarian champions for the past three seasons, who came through three qualifying rounds, he said: "They play an open, attacking style and they'll come here with confidence.

"They've worked hard to get here and we know they'll be excited about coming to Anfield, one of the most iconic stadiums in the world."

Rodgers confirmed that Slovakian centre half Martin Skrtel will not be ready to return, but there are no new injury concerns.

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