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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Chelsea v Liverpool: Five memorable matches

Chelsea must wish they had the likes of Didier Drogba still at the club

Players like Didier Drogba have lit up this fixture in the past

Liverpool’s title credentials will be placed under scrutiny over the Christmas period with quickfire trips to Manchester City and Chelsea.

In recent years the Reds have been involved in some memorable clashes with the latter of those two challengers in the Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup.

Here, Betting Expert has picked out five of the best meetings between the two sides at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea v Liverpool Betting Odds

Chelsea win – 2.00

Draw – 3.30

Liverpool win – 3.40

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

Chelsea 4-2 Liverpool, January 1997

The Merseysiders were beaten FA Cup finalists during the previous year, so they would have been hoping to go one better this time around. It appeared that they would cruise into the fourth round when goals from Robbie Fowler and Stan Collymore within the opening 21 minutes put them 2-0 up.

The introduction of Mark Hughes as a half-time substitute breathed life into Chelsea, though, as the former Manchester United frontman reduced the arrears five minutes after the restart. Italian Gianfranco Zola then drew the Londoners level, before his compatriot Gianluca Vialli sealed the victory for the hosts with a brace.

Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool, May 2003

Had Chelsea not won this game, their recent history could have been very different. It was a straight shootout on the final day of the Premier League season, with the winner snatching the final Champions League qualification berth. Dubbed ‘the £20 million pound match’, it was the away side that claimed an early lead through Finnish centre-back Sami Hyypia.

Chelsea’s response was instant, with Marcel Desailly heading in a Jesper Gronkjaer cross. The Danish winger then turned scorer in the 26th minute when he curled in from the edge of the area for what would be the winning goal. Later, as the game entered into stoppage time, Steven Gerrard was handed his marching orders for two bookable offences. Had Chelsea fallen short in the race for Europe’s elite tournament, many believe that Roman Abramovich would not have bid for the club.

Chelsea 3-2 Liverpool, April 2008

Having played out a 1-1 draw in the first leg at Anfield, the two teams reconvened at the Bridge to play for the right to take on Man United in the 2008 Champions League final in Moscow. Didier Drogba looked to have booked Chelsea’s place in the Russian capital with an early strike, but Fernando Torres forced extra-time.

The hosts regained their composure during the additional 30 minutes, with Frank Lampard restoring their lead from the penalty spot after Hyypia had felled Michael Ballack. Drogba then made it 3-1, before Liverpool’s Ryan Babel ensured a tense finish with a strike from distance. Ultimately, it would be no more than a consolation effort.

Chelsea 4-4 Liverpool, April 2009

Twelve months later the teams met in the same competition, albeit at the quarter-final stage. It seemed that Chelsea would ease into the final four, having returned from the opening leg on Merseyside with a 3-1 victory for their efforts. However, Liverpool had not read the script and goals from Fabio Aurelio and Xabi Alonso levelled up the scores on aggregate at half-time.

Chelsea rallied after the restart and actually took the lead courtesy of goals from Drogba, Alex and Lampard. In a match that had started to become more reminiscent of a basketball clash, Lucas Leiva and Dirk Kuyt then scored in quick succession to put Liverpool 4-3 in front, before Lampard rounded off the scoring, sealing a 7-5 aggregate win for Chelsea in the process.

Chelsea 0-1 Liverpool, February 2011

Just a week earlier Chelsea had parted with £50 million to land the services of Torres from Liverpool. However, it would be no dream debut for the Spaniard, who was replaced by Salomon Kalou in the 66th minute following a lacklustre display. Just three minutes later, Liverpool midfielder Raul Meireles pounced on a mix-up between Petr Cech and Branislav Ivanovic to score the only goal of the game.

liam_avatarLIAM APICELLA (liamapicella88) has worked for a number of publications on a freelance basis, including Footy Matters, Football Italiano and the Ibiza Paper. He is currently the features editor and reporter for Sports Mole.