Real Madrid out for revenge against unpredictable Liverpool

Jay Spearing's cameo was an integral part of Liverpool's most memorable meeting with Real Madrid

Jay Spearing’s cameo was an integral part of Liverpool’s most memorable meeting with Real Madrid

 

‘We made Madrid look like sidemen.’

So went the tweeted verdict of one Liverpool fan reflecting on his side’s 2009 Champions League demolition of the current competition holders. And, it’s true, they did. Liverpool are these days no strangers to making entire teams look like ‘sidemen’, of course; despite a rocky start to this campaign, the last saw sideman after sideman capitulating to the talents of Suarez, Sturridge, Rodgers, and the rest. But there was a greater romance to the feat five years ago: Ryan Babel laid on a goal; Andrea Dossena scored; and in the ultimate indignity for the Spanish side, Jay Spearing replaced Steven Gerrard with fifteen minutes still to play (‘After the skewering, the Spearing’, as Henry Winter so characteristically put it).

Though at least Liverpool had some romance to lose. Their opponents on Wednesday are the antithesis of such an idea. Real Madrid aren’t a team, but a machine – if anything too well oiled – at once both beautiful and ugly. Cristiano Ronaldo spits on your ‘romance’, Pepe headbutts it, and Carlo Ancelotti neatly – but firmly – files it away in a drawer.

They showed it again in Saturday’s 5-0 trashing of Levante. Ronaldo scored his tenth goal in four league games and his fifteenth this season, bringing his Football Manager average rating up to a staggering 9.37 in the process: truly unprecedented. The week before that? Another 5-0 win at home to Athletic Club. Though they sit third in La Liga, their results of late (in all competitions) have been nothing short of ridiculous: since the 2-1 loss to Atletico on September 13, the list reads, 5-1, 8-2, 5-1, 2-0, 2-1, 5-0, 5-0. Gareth Bale will be injured for the away side, and a potential distraction lurks in the background in the form of Saturday’s El Clasico, but even taking both into account, Liverpool ought to be worried.

 

Liverpool v Real Madrid Betting Odds:

Liverpool win 3/1

Real Madrid win 4/5

Draw 13/5

(All odds provided by Intertops.eu are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

The English side’s weekend win at QPR was an absurd spectacle; one that you would think had been made up were it not for the eminently plausible event of a Richard Dunne own goal. Absurd, perversely impressive, but far from convincing, it was a performance that will no doubt encourage Real Madrid. Liverpool, remember, have some of their own injury problems – Sturridge is out for another few weeks; Raheem Sterling might well, if he can keep his eyes open, watch from home with some warm milk and a blanket – and their form in Europe has been patchy at best: the last gasp win at home to Ludogorets was concerning enough, but to follow it up with a 1-0 loss to Basel was to put their place in the competition in doubt.

 

It could well be that Liverpool need a tie like this, something to kickstart their stuttering season. There is (rightly) much made of the Anfield atmosphere on big European nights, and Wednesday should be, to quote Rodgers, ‘special’: ‘To see that flag back out in the middle of the pitch and for the supporters to get behind their team, like they do, is going to be an amazing experience.’ Being excited, however, is not the same as being prepared.

There will be no repeat of 2009’s 4-0, not this time. And if you can find odds on Mario Balotelli pulling down Pepe’s shorts, kicking him up the backside, and telling him that he looked better baldy, take them. With such a craaaazy guy – What’s he gonna do next? Dye his hair RED? HAHA! – leading the line, Liverpool have next to no chance. Far better to take a punt on the dependable Rickie Lambert, a man much more likely to terrorise young Raphael Varane than he who dragged his country, kicking and screaming, to the final of Euro 2012.

Otherwise, as a Real Madrid supporting friend of the Liverpool fan we met earlier replied, ‘this time we will see who will be the wasteman.’ It’s up to you, Brendan.

 

Betting Instinct tip Real Madrid to win by two or more goals is 37/20 with AllYouBet.ag

 

Kieran avatar KIERAN DODDS  is a masters student and writer. He has written about sport, politics and current affairs for the Guardian, the Huffington Post, Africa is a Country, When Saturday Comes, IBWM and others. Follow Kieran on Twitter.

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The Greatest Champions League Comebacks

Can José Mourinho emulate  Roberto di Matteo and mastermind another Chelsea comeback?

Can José Mourinho emulate Roberto di Matteo and mastermind another Chelsea Champions League comeback?

 

On Tuesday night, Borussia Dortmund will look to overturn a three-goal deficit when they host Real Madrid in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final.

When you consider that the 4-1 recorded by a full-strength Dortmund side when the teams met in last seasons semis was considered a surprise, and the defensive problems suffered by Jürgen Klopp’s side, even a home win is no guarantee.

 

Borussia Dortmund v Real Madrid Second Leg Betting Odds:

Borussia Dortmund win – 3.05

Real Madrid win – 2.08

Draw – 3.60

(All odds provided by GR88.com are accurate as of today and subject to change)

 

Dortmund have spent most of the season with a makeshift defence, replacing real centre-backs Hummels and Subotić with a loud grunting sound (Durm) and a player devised to mock English commentators (Papathatopoulos). With that in mind it seems unlikely that they will keep alive their hopes of back-to-back finals, but stranger things have happened.

Below are three of the most memorable second-leg comebacks in the Champions League, and Dortmund progressing this week could trump them all.

 

 

Deportivo La Coruña 4-0 AC Milan (Aggregate 5-4), 2004 quarter-finals

You might find this hard to believe when looking at their current squad of Fulham rejects, over-the-hill ‘hard men’ and Kévin Constant, but a decade ago Milan were good. Really good.

They had won the Champions League the previous year and would go on to make the final in 2005 and 2007, and while they stumbled through the group stage they still had Kaká, Andrey Shevchenko and Andrea Pirlo, all of whom had scored in the first leg after Walter Pandiani gave Depor a shock early lead.

The Spanish side were no slouches of course, making it through to the knockout stages after a scarcely believable 8-3 victory over Monaco and seeing off 2003 finalists Juventus in the last 16. But a three-goal deficit was too much, right?

Wrong. In fact it only took them 44 minutes to take an away-goals lead in the tie (note to ITV – that is what ‘getting half the job done’ means), before talisman Fran made sure with a late fourth. Ironically they then went on to lose in the semi-finals to Porto, who were joined in the final by the Monaco side who had shipped eight goals in Spain earlier in the season – José Mourinho no doubt thanked Depor manager Javier Irureta for giving his team an easy path to victory.

 

 

Barcelona 5-1 Chelsea (AET, Aggregate 6-4), 2000 quarter-finals

It’s an oft-repeated myth that Chelsea came into being in 2003 when Roman Abramovich’s millions transformed them into title contenders. To make such an assumption would be to forget the 1999-2000 season, when the club splashed out around £20m on the likes of Gabriele Ambrosetti, Jes Høgh, Emerson Thome and Chris Sutton. And to think people said Alexey Smertin was a waste of money.

It was thanks to their existing players, however, that they made it through two group stages (yes folks, that wasn’t just a bad dream) and inflicted a first defeat of the competition on Barça, with two goals from Tore Andre Flo and one from Gianfranco Zola giving the Londoners every chance of making it through.

However you’ve heard the saying – the only things certain in life are death, taxes, and Barcelona beating Chelsea in the Champions League. Rivaldo and Luis Figo gave the hosts the upper hand at the Nou Camp, and while Flo pulled one back after an error from home goalkeeper Ruud Hesp, Dani’s 83rd minute header levelled the scores. There was still almost time for Barcelona to seal the deal within 90 minutes, but Rivaldo missed a late penalty.

The killer blow came in the 99th minute. Celestine Babayaro brought down a marauding Figo in the area, referee Anders Frisk (remember him, Chelsea fans?) sent the Nigerian off, and Rivaldo stepped up to score from the spot. Patrick Kluivert added a fifth five minutes later and that was that.

 

 

Chelsea 4-1 Napoli (AET, Aggregate 5-4), 2012 last 16

It took more than a decade, but finally Chelsea would have their chance to see what it was like to be on the other end of an epic European comeback. And the two legs could not have been more different, right down to the man in charge of the London club – the first-leg defeat in Italy was one of André Villas-Boas’ last, and return match was only the second outing of Roberto di Matteo#s tenure.

Needing a 2-0 win to progress, goals either side of half-time from Didier Drogba and John Terry put Chelsea within touching distance of the quarter-finals, but they knew from previous setbacks not to get too carried away. And indeed an impressive 20-yard strike from Gökhan Inler put the ball back in Napoli’s court.

But with 15 minutes left, Andrea Dossena handled in the box and Frank Lampard beat Morgan De Sanctis from the penalty spot. That took the game to extra-time, where an extended spell of Chelsea pressure ended with Branislav Ivanović smashing the ball into the roof of the net for the first of many crucial goals that the Serbian would score.

We all know what followed – an improbable run to the final and an even more improbable victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena after the German side could only muster one goal from their 35 shots. And if Chelsea fans believe in omens, the scoring in that first leg in Napoli was opened by Ezequiel Lavezzi, the same man who netted Paris Saint-Germain’s first in last week’s 3-1 first-leg victory. Can history repeat itself?

 

Betting Instinct Tip – Chelsea to make it through to this year’s semi-finals is 3.20 with GR88.com. Can they manage another famous comeback at Stamford Bridge?

GR88 will refund selected losing bets if a goal is scored in the 88th minute or later (in normal time) in any of the four quarter-final second legs this week. For full terms and conditions click here.

 

tvTOM VICTOR (editor)  is the editor and co-founder of Betting Instinct. He has written for a variety of  sports sites in the past, including JustFootball, Footy Matters and BeNeFoot.