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Friday, August 29, 2014

How Liverpool and Real Madrid Squads Have Changed Since the Reds 5-0 Aggregate Win over the Madristas in 2009

Liverpool have been drawn to play Real Madrid when they make their Champions League return after five years in the abyss.

Brendan Rodgers’ side finished runners-up to Manchester City last season which automatically saw them qualify for the competition they have won more than any Premier League club and third most in European club football.

In a group that has Swiss outfit Basel and Bulgaria league champions Ludogorets Razgrad, the Reds and the La Liga behemoths will be favorites to emerge out of the group and into the last 16.

Liverpool fans will be excited to learn that they have never lost any competitive fixture to any of their Group B opponents. They have only ever met Basel once and that was in the 2002-03 Champions League competition with the teams drawing 1-1 and 3-3 over two legs. They have never met Ludogorets.

The Reds last meeting with Real Madrid was in the 2009 Champions League round of 16. Liverpool won 1-0 at Santiago Bernabeu, Yossi Benayoun header securing the Merseysiders the win. In the return leg at Anfield, the home team cruised 4-0, Steven Gerarrd grabbing a brace with Fernando Torres and Andre Dossena also on the scoresheet.

The two teams have however changed exponentially since then, almost as dramatically as the Reds 4-0 capitulation on that Tuesday night. Besides the obvious revamping of the squads, Real Madrid have retained their standing as a permanent Champions League team while Liverpool had fallen backwards and will be making their first appearance in five years. Real Madrid will be going into the campaign as defending champions after beating Atletico Madrid in extra time to lift their 10th title last season, twice as much as the English side whose last triumph was in 2005.

But just how much has the squads changed since the two clubs’ last meeting in October 2009? Of the 18 players who made it to the Real Madrid squad, only four who got involved in the game still play for the Los Blancos; Iker Casillas, Marcelo, Pepe and Sergio Ramos. The numbers get thinner for Liverpool with only captain Steven Gerrard, Martin Skrtel and Lucas still part of the Reds team.

What this means is that there will be new faces all across when the duo clash first at Anfield in October 22nd and then at the Bernabeu on November 4th. The Anfield meeting will come only 12 days past the day they conquered Madrid at the same venue five years ago. But there won't be Juande Ramos in the Real Madrid touchline or Rafael Benitez in the Liverpool one. There won't be Raul, Gonzalo Higuain or Arjen Robben for Real, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, or Javier Mascherano for Liverpool.

There, however, will be mixed emotions for one man; Alvaro Arbeloa. The Spanish defender was part of the Reds team that night but has since transferred to the Spanish capital and swapped the Red of Liverpool for the all white of Real Madrid. It's highly unlikely he will feature though.

Alonso will also not make a return to Anfield having signed for Bayern Munich.  

Bar injuries or suspensions, Steven Gerarrd will lead his troops, and so will Iker Casillas as these two football giants lock horns again. Sweet dreams are made of such.

And That’s thesteifmastertake!!