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Sunday, August 02, 2009

Real Madrid vs Liverpool CL 2008-09: Live Score, Updates

(This entry was originally posted on Tuesday, February 24th, 2009)

High flying Real Madrid hosts English giants Liverpool in the much-awaited first leg encounter of first knockout round of Champions League on Wednesday (25 February) at the Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid. Real Madrid’s excellent form of recent does not match the Liverpool’s depleted recent form, and there are many consider Real Madrid to be in complete advantageous position ahead of the Champions League tie. When Real Madrid was drawn to Liverpool two months back, there were hardly anybody who could have thought things would change so rapidly.

Match: Real Madrid vs Liverpool, First Knockout Round, UEFA Champions League 08-09

Date: 25 February 2009, Wednesday

Venue: Santiago Bernabeu, Madrid, Spain

Kick off: 19:45 GMT (British Standard Time)

Live TV: Ten Sports

Liverpool was leading the premier league with 6 points adrift of Manchester United and was in scintillating form both in England and Europe. Real Madrid, on the other hand, was struggling with their form as well as a series of injury blows including their in-form striker Ruud van Nistelrooy and after the 2-0 defeat at the hands of arch rival Barcelona, Real Madrid was left in the second spot with a 12-point deficit that many believed was enough to write off the Men in White.

Well, since then Real Madrid has bounced back with full swing, winning nine La Liga matches in a row, scoring 25 and conceding just 4 goals on the way. In fact, 10 out of their 25 goals came in their last two league games including Sunday’s 6-1 thrash of Real Madrid. Liverpool, in contrast, has just lost their rhythm over the last couple of months and is now left in the second spot with 7 points behind leader Manchester United. Liverpool is still active in the title race, but the way United is playing now, it is really very hard to see enough chances for the Reds to recover the deficit and clinch their first premier league title in 19 years.

Real Madrid is also 7 points behind leader Barcelona in Spanish league, and it would not be easy to recover the deficit for Real Madrid too, but they have nothing to loss this season, after a series of poor performance in the first half of the season. So, for Real Madrid, Champions League is still the most realistic tournament to vie for silverware this season, even though I have not yet given up on Real Madrid’s hope for third consecutive La Liga title. Moreover, Real Madrid already has record 9 Champions league (European Cup previously) titles to their credit, and thus, they are now on the verge of becoming first European club to have double digit in terms of the number of champions league titles achieved.

Moreover, Real Madrid has a manager like Juande Ramos who is well-known as a cup specialist because of his success with Sevilla and Tottenham Hotspur in the last three seasons. He successfully led Sevilla to win UEFA Cups, Copa del Rey, Spanish Supercopa and UEFA Super Cup in the space of just two years, and then managed North London club Tottenham Hotspur to clinch last season’s League Cup in England. So, Liverpool has every possible reason to fear about the Real Madrid clash, but they have good news too.

Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard has been passed fit for the mouth watering battle after recovering from hamstring injury sustained during their defeat at the hands of city rival Everton in the replay match of FA Cup fourth round. That means, Gerrard has been included in the Madrid-bound Liverpool squad. However, British Daily Mirror quoted Liverpool manager Rafael Benitez as saying that he would not gamble on the fitness of Gerrard- meaning the Spaniard would assess the fitness of his most reliable player until last hour before the match kicks off. Liverpool will also miss the service of Daniel Agger who has been ruled out of the Real Madrid tie with a back injury for which he missed Saturday 1-1 draw with Manchester City. Philipp Degen is another casualty of injury in Liverpool camp.

Real Madrid does not have any new injury woe ahead of the Liverpool show down. Rather, Real Madrid has a plenty of reasons to be confident ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Liverpool. Captain Raul has been in excellent form, while Dutch prodigy Arjen Robben is perhaps enjoying his best time in his career this season and Argentine forward Gonzalo Higuain has been in excellent scoring form. So, Liverpool defense might expect some tough challenge from Real Madrid. Moreover, Real Madrid defense has shown considerable strength over the last couple of months in the presence of veteran Fabio Cannavaro, Pepe, Gabriel Heinze. Moreover, Liverpool’s recent struggle in scoring might add to the confidence of Real Madrid defenders.

Well, it would be a big mistake if Real Madrid can take Liverpool lightly because Liverpool would be happy with even a scored draw away at Real Madrid, while Real will be under pressure to pick up a win over the visiting side in what would give them some confidence while going into return leg at Anfield. Moreover, Liverpool has creative players like Steven Gerrard, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres who all are match winning players. You might point out Gerrard’s injury and Torres’ poor performance against Real Madrid in Real’s favor, but you can not write off a team like Liverpool who never finished before reaching the semi final in the last four seasons in a row in Champions League, playing in the final twice and winning the title once.

In terms of number of titles, Real Madrid and Liverpool have shared 14 Champions league titles with Real’s 9 and Liverpool’s 5 and their performance in Europe is also fearsome, even though Real’s form over the last few seasons is not satisfactory at all. Though Real Madrid and Liverpool among the most successful clubs in Europe, they met each other in Europe only once which came way back in 1981 final in Paris where Liverpool clinched the title thanks to Alan Kennedy’s wining goal.

Real Madrid’s home form against English clubs is really very impressive with four wins, four draws and one defeat in 14 matches, while Liverpool’s away record in Spain is also satisfactory with six wins, four draws and three defeats. However, Real Madrid has no win in their last three encounters against English clubs with 3-1 home victory over Real Madrid way back in 2003.

Real Madrid reached the first knock out round as the Group H runners up with 4 wins and 2 defeats, while Liverpool made it to the last 16 as the Group D champion with 4 wins and 2 draws. Liverpool at second position in premier league has the best chance to win the league title for the first time in a long time and many believe that they would be more focused on the league title, and thus, they might not risk Gerrard for the match against Real Madrid, in an attempt to ensure his strong presence in premier league matches. Well, I think, Liverpool will be struggling without their inspirational captain and a defeat against Real Madrid would take a toll on their confidence level and it would not help them anyway to improve their form in premier league. So, I think, Liverpool should go all out for Champions League too, not preferring domestic title to Europe.

Online Live Score and Updates

Here, I am giving some live score and update websites from where you can get the live score and updates of the match:

Live Score

Goalzz

Live Football Scores

Goal.com

Footie Scorez

Real Madrid seems to be favorite, counting on their home advantage and recent form together. However, I want to echo former Real Madrid great Alfredo di Stefano, stating that there is no favorite in a match where the clubs like Real Madrid and Liverpool face each other. I just want to say that both teams will have chances in the match and the team who will capitalize on the chances more will come out as the winner in the match.

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