The last time Real Madrid faced Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League was in 2009 when the Reds beat Los Blancos by four goals at Anfield. Portuguese sensation Cristiano Ronaldo remembers how that very season, his Manchester United side also lost to Liverpool by three goals at Old Trafford. Times have changed since that fateful season in which Liverpool ended up runners-up in the Premier League… But now, it’s Ronaldo’s time.
According to the Daily Mail, the two-time Ballon d’Or winner was quoted telling reporters after the group draw, “I know Liverpool is a very difficult stadium. But we are Real Madrid”. The ten-time European champions now boast perhaps the best attacking side in Europe, followed closely by the likes of German juggernauts Bayern Munich and Spanish giants Barcelona.
When asked about the Madrid loss to Liverpool in 2009 he said, “I was not there. It’s different. Every game has a different story. Liverpool are different too, so let’s see who’s going to be the best”.
While Liverpool still have skipper Steven Gerrard most of his former ‘brothers-in-arms’ are no longer with him. Former Kop hero Fernando Torres is now at Chelsea. Xabi Alonso and Javier Mascherano are now playing for Real Madrid and Barcelona respectively.
Even Liverpool’s (now former) biggest star Luis Suarez recently transferred to Barcelona making way for AC Milan striker Mario Balotelli to step into his shoes. Suarez’s heroics gave Liverpool their Champions League spot after four seasons of them watching from the sidelines.
Their ‘new breed’ of stars Raheem Sterling, Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will no doubt face a difficult test in an all-star Real Madrid line-up. But Ronaldo is a smart player and along with Gareth Bale and James Rodriguez, won’t be taking anything for granted.
But will the former Manchester United player be welcome at Anfield?
“My reception at Anfield? Wow. If it was at Manchester United it would be amazing. It will be nice for me to face Liverpool, I’ve never played there since I came to Real Madrid”, he was quoted saying.
Liverpool and Real Madrid will also have to contend with Champions League first-timers PFC Ludogorets of Bulgaria and Swiss club Basel in Group B. However, the focus will no doubt be on the Merseysiders and the ten-time European Champions.
Save the dates: Anfield on October 22nd and Santiago Bernabeu on November 24th… The Kop will be singing, but who will be winning?