Real Madrid could win Group B on Tuesday night with a victory at home to Liverpool and a draw in the other game. Victory however all-but wraps up the group with the defending champions six points ahead of the other three clubs at the halfway point.
Carlo Ancelotti’s side have been on sensational form over the past month and a half in which they have strung together 11 consecutive keywords.
Liverpool meanwhile have been unimpressive of late – beaten 3-0 at home by Real Madrid a fortnight ago, drawing 0-0 at home to Hull City and then beaten 1-0 at Newcastle this past weekend.
A game featuring European heavyweights such as Madrid and Liverpool (with 15 European titles between them) would certainly be the highlight of any sporting calendar and a top-line feature in betting news but the truth is that Liverpool have declined badly (despite last season’s Suarez-led achievement) and Madrid are simply on another level across Europe. Expect a Madrid win.
Gareth Bale has been out for a month now but returns to training on Monday. Whether the former Tottenham star will be fit to start on Tuesday is unlikely. In his place, Isco has been in fine form.
Fábio Coentrão and Jesé are two other absentees for Carlo Ancelotti who otherwise has all his stars available.
Brendan Rodgers confirmed last week that Daniel Sturridge is not fit for this game. Mario Balotelli’s goal against Ludogorets is the only goal by any of the Reds’ other three strikers in the Premier League and Champions League combined.
Mamadou Sakho and José Enrique are both unavailable for this game but could return at the weekend, whilst Jon Flanagan is a long-term injury.
This is Carlo Ancelotti’s favourite formation currently and we see no reason for him to make a change. They have all the firepower to score at will against any side, as they have been doing recently. Toni Kroos and Luka Modrić are doing an adequate job in front of the back four lately too. In possession, these too don’t often give it away and they are also playmakers in their own right. The Liverpool defence and midfield are going to have their work cut-out to say the least.
We’re expecting Brendan Rodgers to stuff the midfield and play conservative. At Anfield they played three attackers who did not support the midfield in defending and they paid the price. Mario Balotelli should be able to hold the ball up if Liverpool can can find him so we think Rodgers will stick with the out-of-form striker for this one.
Cristiano Ronaldo vs Glen Johnson
Cristiano Ronaldo opened the scoring with a fine finish in the first encounter between these two – his first goal at Anfield. The Portuguese forward has been sensational this season with an incredible 22 goals in 15 appearances in all competitions to start the season including three in three in the Champions League. Glen Johnson struggled to stay with for the former Manchester United player in the first encounter and you can expect the England international to be in for a tiring game this Tuesday too.
Isco vs Alberto Moreno
After a promising start in a Liverpool shirt it’s been a tough time for Alberto Moreno. It was the Spanish left-back’s mistake that led to Newcastle’s winner on Saturday too. Isco is playing great down the right side of midfield for Real Madrid and you can expect him to be involved in the action if he’s up against Moreno. Isco is a playmaker and you can expect him to create chances in this match.
Karim Benzema vs Dejan Lovren
Karim Benzema hasn’t been too consistent in La Liga so far this season but the French striker is Real Madrid’s top scorer in the Champions League with four goals. Liverpool’s £20 million centre-back signing has struggled in his early days so don’t be surprised if Benzema gets on the scoresheet in this match.
Prediction: Real Madrid 3-0 Liverpool
Real Madrid took their foot off the gas at 3-0 two weeks ago, perhaps with the Super Clasico in mind the following weekend. We refuse to believe Brendan Rodgers will be foolish to play too many attacking players in this game and have an additional defensive midfielder in mind to try keep the scoreline down to a minimum. The sooner Real Madrid take the lead the more risks the English side have to take though which can be suicide versus Ancelotti’s team.