Liverpool languishing, so Madrid look Real deal for Bernabeu battle
Liverpool have drawn a blank in three of their last four outings across all competitions and conceded 21 times in 15 matches this term, with only a late Capital One Cup revival last midweek giving Anfield fans any recent joy.
Couple this with the comprehensive thrashing Real Madrid gave them in the reverse fixture of this Champions League Group B contest, and it’s easy to see why Brendan Rodgers’ Reds are 11/1 outsiders with Coral to cause an upset in the Bernabeu. Even a draw looks a remote prospect at 9/2, because of that toothless Merseyside attack. It also makes a Madrid win to nil tasty at 6/4.
While the absences of sidelined Daniel Sturridge and sold Luis Suarez stick out like sore thumbs, Mario Balotelli toils almost entirely fruitlessly in their stead. The Italian has just two goals in 13 outings for Liverpool, and that dearth is reflected in lengthy odds of 4/1 for him to net anytime.
Rodgers must decide whether to unleash old-fashioned England centre forward Rickie Lambert (11/2) on Real, or pair the two up top. Raheem Sterling (also 11/2) failed to match up physically to Pepe when he was pushed up front at Anfield, so the Reds boss would be wise to ignore that option.
Including Fabio Borini (6/1) in an all-Italian attack alongside Balotelli remains an alternative, but he has been a bit-part player on Merseyside this season, having resisted a move. Captain Steven Gerrard (also 6/1) is the only current Liverpool man with a goal against Madrid on his CV for the club.
Los Blancos are totally deserving of their strongly odds-on 1/4 price as favourites to win this fixture. On three occasions this term, Carlo Ancelotti’s team have scored five goals at home, and moved top of La Liga as Barcelona and Sevilla both lost.
Cristiano Ronaldo has, naturally, been central to the destructive form Real are in, having found the target on every league and European outing he’s made so far. The Portugal superstar has hit three hat-tricks, including a four-goal haul, and boasts 20 strikes from a dozen competitive appearances for Madrid this term.
It will come as no surprise to punters, then, that Ronaldo is odds-on a 1/2 in the anytime market to net against Liverpool. Better odds are available on him grabbing the opener (9/4) as he did at Anfield, or for two goals or more (7/4).
Ronaldo’s fellow forwards James Rodriguez and Karim Benzema are also going through purple patches. Colombia attacker Rodriguez bagged a brace last time out, as Real warmed up for welcoming the Reds by battering Granda 4-0. He is 7/4 to be on target again anytime.
France frontman Benzema, meanwhile, netted a double at Anfield, and is a 5/1 shot to match or better two goals once more. Worse still for Liverpool, Gareth Bale is back in training and may make his Madrid return here. Tempting odds of 4/1 say he will score last, as Isco (a 2/1 anytime chance) has ably deputsied and could feel aggrieved if he fails to keep his place.
Like Bale, Luka Modric has previously scored against the Merseysiders before. It’s 6/1 the Croatia pass-master sinks Rodgers’ Reds here. Back Real for over 3.5 (7/4) or 4.5 (9/2) goals on their own, as all signs suggest their glittering Galactico attack will run riot.