Tuesday, October 19, 2021
HomeSportsLiverpool back as Champions League kicks off

Liverpool back as Champions League kicks off

Liverpool`s return to Champions League action for the first time in five years and Real Madrid`s shaky start to the season dominate the start of the new battle for the elite European title on Tuesday.

Liverpool take on surprise Bulgarian team Ludogorets Razgrad, while defending champions Real clash with Switzerland`s Basel in the key matches of the first day.

German champions Bayern Munich play English counterparts Manchester City on Wednesday when Barcelona, Chelsea and Paris St Germain also set off on the gruelling campaign.

Only captain Steven Gerrard remains from the 18-man squad which featured in Liverpool`s last Champions League match, a 2-1 loss at home to Fiorentina in December 2009.

Manager Brendan Rodgers, who has spent big to bring in the likes of Italy striker Mario Balotelli and England midfielder Adam Lallana, says the five-time European champions are not nervous about the return.

“We have a very young squad and they will gain experience — it is about embracing it. There is certainly no fear of the competition,” Rodgers said.

“I think success is about qualifying from the group. We will take one game at a time: we are at home in our first game and we aim to perform well and get three points but we will respect them like we would if we were playing Real Madrid.”

Liverpool are in Group B with Real who also have a lot to prove to their fans after losing two Spanish league games in a row.

Despite the struggle, Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti believes the defending champions remain the best in the European competition.

Madrid sold Angel di Maria and Xabi Alonso, but bought 75 million euro James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos to assist Cristiano Ronaldo in the hunt for goals.

“We have a lot of desire for this competition, we want to be competitive and try to win it again,” Ancelotti said.

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