Preview: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid

Preview: Liverpool vs. Real Madrid
Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League Group B clash between Liverpool and Real Madrid at Anfield.

Two of the biggest names in European football will meet on Wednesday when Liverpool welcome Real Madrid in the group stages of the Champions League.

The visitors currently top Group B with six points, but Liverpool are third after losing to Basel in their last European clash.

Liverpool will have fond memories of their last meeting with Real Madrid, however, after beating the Spanish side 5-0 on aggregate in the 2008-09 competition. The Reds were 1-0 winners in Spain, before triumphing 4-0 on their own patch.

The Premier League side have only won four of their 14 home games against Spanish opposition, however, losing four times in the process. That said, they enter this match having won their last two games in the Premier League.

Sunday's three points came in fortuitous circumstances, however, with Brendan Rodgers's side beating Queens Park Rangers 3-2 despite struggling for much of the 90 minutes.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, thumped Levante 5-0 in La Liga at the weekend. They have won their last seven games in all competitions since losing to Atletico Madrid in September and will therefore enter this match full of confidence.

Thus far in the Champions League, they have beaten Basel 5-1 at the Bernabeu and recorded a narrow 2-1 away win over Ludogorets to top the section.

The Spanish club, who won their 10th European Cup last season, are also unbeaten in their last three trips to Premier League opposition, including a 2-1 victory over Manchester United in the 2012-13 round of 16 at Old Trafford.

The home side will be without the services of Daniel Sturridge, who has a thigh problem, while French centre-back Mamadou Sakho is also expected to miss out.

As a result, Mario Balotelli is expected to lead the line with support from Raheem Sterling, while Joe Allen could also return to midfield for the home side.

Real Madrid, meanwhile, are expected to be without Gareth Bale, who is struggling with a hip injury. Should the Welshman fail to recover, Isco is expected to feature, with James Rodriguez moving into a forward area.

German international Sami Khedira is available once again, but the midfielder is not expected to be involved from the onset.

Sergio Ramos is also expected to return to the XI after sitting out the recent international break and win over Levante through injury.

Recent form

Liverpool: WDLWW

Real Madrid: WWWWW

Possible starting lineups

Liverpool: Mignolet; Johnson, Skrtel, Lovren, Enrique; Allen, Henderson, Gerrard; Sterling, Balotelli, Lallana

Real Madrid: Casillas; Carvajal, Ramos, Pepe, Marcelo; Modric, Kroos, Isco; James, Benzema, Ronaldo

Sports Mole says: 1-3

Real Madrid's Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his goal with Real Madrid's Portuguese defender Pepe during the Spanish league football match on October 18, 2014
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TeamPWDLFAGDPTS
1Manchester CityMan City98103242825
2Manchester UnitedMan Utd96212241820
3Tottenham HotspurSpurs85211551017
4Chelsea95131710716
5Watford94321517-215
6Newcastle UnitedNewcastle9423108214
7Arsenal84131210213
8Liverpool83411312113
9Burnley934289-113
10Southampton933389-112
11Huddersfield TownHuddersfield9333710-312
12Brighton & Hove AlbionBrighton9324910-111
13West Bromwich AlbionWest Brom9243710-310
14Leicester CityLeicester92341214-29
15Swansea CitySwansea9225610-48
16Everton8224513-88
17West Ham UnitedWest Ham9225817-98
18Stoke CityStoke92251020-108
19Bournemouth9216613-77
20Crystal Palace9108219-173
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