UCL Preview: Liverpool need result in Spain, Roma looks for revenge on Bayern, more

REUTERS/Max Rossi

By MATTHEW LEVINE
Staff Writer

Real Madrid can effectively claim top spot with a win against Liverpool in their second group stage meeting. The Reds on the other hand are looking to keep their chances of surviving the group alive.

There may be no team in Europe in better form than Madrid, who have won 11 in a row in all competitions. That included a 3-0 win at Anfield.   The Reds have struggled in the Champions League, losing to Basel and needing a late penalty kick goal to move past Ludogorets. They have now gone two games in a row without a goal and trying to change that trend in the Santiago Bernabeu will be no easy feat. The Reds are expected to be without Daniel Sturridge as well.

It’s up to either Mario BalotelliFabio Borini or Rickie Lambert to lead the line.

However, in the circumstances, the Reds may very well look to play for a draw. With the likes of Cristano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema bearing down, Liverpool may opt to get men behind the ball in hopes of limiting the home side’s chances.

It will also take some doing from the Liverpool defense, who are no strangers to conceding.

What To Look For

1. Roma looks for revenge– Roma was absolutely shattered by Bayern Munich in Rome. The Germans ran out 7-1 winners in a breathtaking attacking display.

Now, Roma will head to Germany looking for some revenge.

With Bayern’s form so far, it seems little doubt that other three sides in Group E are battling for second. Roma will need to keep their gap over Manchester City and can do that with a win. However in Munich, at least a draw would service to keep very much in the forefront for advancing through the group.

After the last result, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Roma bunker down and look to hit the home side on the counter. Gervinho will be absolutely vital for Roma if they choose to play this way.

For the Italian side, if they can weather the first 15 minutes and build confidence, they will have a shot at getting a positive result. Will they punish Bayern for seven goals? That scenario isn’t likely, but a win by any margin would be just as sweet.

2. Can Olympiacos find road form?– Olympiacos have been phenomenal at home in the group stage thus far, upending both Atletico Madrid and Juventus in Greece.

However, away from home has been a different story, losing 2-0 to Malmo.

A win against Juventus would put Olympiacos in a prime position to advance out of Group A.

When they met earlier in the group stage, a first half goal by Pajtim Kasami and some fine goalkeeping from Roberto kept Juventus out.

In terms of Juve’s attacking intent, it should be no different as they will be at home and knowing a loss could very well be the beginning of the end for any Champions League advancement. However, the Italian side will need to start finishing off their chances going two straight group games losing 1-0.

3. Basel, Ludogorets fighting for second– With Liverpool’s struggles in the Champions League and playing a streaking Real Madrid once more, the door is firmly open for FC Basel or Ludogorets to walk through.

The underdog Bulgarians defeated Basel recently for their first ever win in the Champions League group stage and the first for a Bulgarian side ever. They’ve given each team a tough game, despite their losses to Real Madrid and Liverpool, and will look to continue their magical and improbable run to a Round of 16 place.

Basel has already beaten Liverpool at home and will be no pushover when Ludogorets visit.

4. Needing more late heroics?– A theme for Arsenal this season has been finding goals deep into games. That’s how they were able to maintain second place in Group D with two goals in the last six minutes to defeat Anderlecht.

They will host Anderlecht this week, but will need a much better performance at home. The Gunners’ attack has yet to really fire on all cylinders and its shown in lack of ideas in the final third at times.

Alexis Sanchez seemingly willed Arsenal to a late win against Burnley and the Chilean should be at the forefront once more if the Gunners are to have success.

They will just hope the goals come earlier and solidify their chances of moving through in more comfortable fashion.

However, expect the visitors to be very dogged as they in Belgium. Andy Najar was instrumental in that performance and the former D.C. United man will need to be again, if Anderlecht are to pull off a shock victory.

5. City still searching for win– Manchester City continue to be undone by late goals. In all three games, they had a chance to get more from the game and be in a more comfortable position in Group E, instead they have plenty of work to do.

However, all is not lost. With Bayern Munich and Roma playing in the other group game, if Bayern get a win it opens the door for City to jump to second in the group.

After a draw in Russia, City will host CSKA Moscow. City’s home form in Champions League hasn’t been stellar. They’ve only won two of eight fixtures at home. They will need to make it a third with three points so vital.

Yaya Toure has looked stronger of late and Sergio Aguero continues to score goals. City can knock Moscow out of the running and to do so, they will need to finally put a complete 90 minute performance together.