Liverpool 0 Real Madrid 3: Three talking points as Man United legend stars
Three talking points as Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema open Liverpool up
Madrid reap rewards for patient play
For the first 20 minutes of the game, Liverpool looked sturdy in defence and well organised as they tried hard to keep Real Madrid’s wealth of attacking riches at bay. It took a moment of brilliance between Christiano Ronaldo and James Rodriguez to break the deadlock and open the floodgates for an 18-minute barrage. A fine one-two saw the Portugese international dink the ball over a helpless Simon Mignolet. Karim Benzema came to the party, first with a fine, looping header to double his side’s lead. He then bagged his second as he craftily backheeled from a scrappy phase of play. Liverpool did look stronger in the second half, but with one eye on El Clasico at the weekend, Carlo Ancelotti’s side were merely in cruise control.
Struggles continue for toothless Liverpool
One of the biggests points of Liverpool’s successful campaign in the Premier League last season was their ability to outscore their opponents and the tendency to score early in matches to almost shock other teams out of the match. The departure of Luis Suarez in the summer has left a cavernous void in the goal-scoring department, while the ongoing injury farce surrounding Daniel Sturridge means Liverpool fans are issuing a SOS as opposed to raving about SAS. The same frailties are apparent at the back for the hosts, so to combine that with the apparent lack of goal-scoring means, the pressure is on as soon as they go a goal behind. They either need to find a way to get the best out of a struggling Mario Balotelli to score more, or indeed sure up their defence to make the goals dry up at their own end.
Qualification still in the balance for Reds
The prospect of playing this Real Madrid side again in less than a fortnight will leave Brendan Rodgers with more than a few sleepless nights. The reality is that they head to the Santiago Bernabeau needing to get a result out of the match to keep their hopes of qualifying for the knockout stages. A late goal for Ludogorets against Basel means Madrid top the group with a maximum nine points while the remaining sides each have three points apiece. Assuming they leave the Spanish capital with nothing, the winner of the return leg between Basel and Ludogorets will go ahead of Liverpool. A draw between the two would leave Liverpool bottom of the group with two matches remaining. The prospect of Europa league football doesn’t bode well for the Kop faithful especially given their league struggles. The hangover from the success of last season is turning this season into a nightmare.