Michael Owen: Here's what Brendan Rodgers must develop in Europe

Champions League Trophy

Liverpool return to the grand Champions League stage this evening, with an Anfield encounter against surprise-package Ludogorets this evening.

Michael Owen has raised four points ahead of Liverpool's return to Champions League competition, as the Anfield outfit take on Ludogorets Razgrad this evening, Tuesday.

For Owen, who returned 158 goals in 297 games in all competitions for the Reds during an eight-year spell, the European encounter against the respective Bulgarian minnows will come down to 1: how Brendan Rodgers can engineer a convincing victory against a side who will likely park the bus; 2: how Ludogorets handle a hostile atmosphere in Liverpool; 3: whether the Reds can maintain their 'hit them hard, hit them fast' mentality from last season and 4: how successful the team can be should Rodgers switch his tactics.

Owen, 34, wrote on sportlobster.com: "After their lack-lustre performance and defeat against Aston Villa at the weekend, Liverpool will be relishing the chance to get back on track tonight when they play their first Champions League match for five years.

"Ludogorets will be setting their stall out to leave Anfield with anything other than a good hiding. If that proves to be the case then it will be a good examination of Liverpool's ability to break teams down whose first ambition at Anfield is not to get beaten."

He continued: "One thing that could certainly have a huge bearing on the outcome is the atmosphere at Anfield on European nights.

"This will be the very first time that the Bulgarian team have played in England and with a capacity of just 6,000 at their own ground it's fair to say that they won't have seen or heard anything like the incredible wall of noise that will greet them as they step onto the Anfield turf."

Liverpool's panache for scoring first half goals or even killing matches swiftly, demonstrated perfectly during their 5-1 home rout over Arsenal in February when Rodgers oversaw four goals inside the first 20 minutes of play, may not continue into this season due to the departure of Luis Suarez, asserts Owen.

"Last season… Liverpool tore into teams from the very first whistle and on a number of occasions the match was sewn up well before half-time. Their sheer pace up front as well as the mercurial skills of Luis Suarez was simply too much for most of their Premier League opponents.

"However, with Luis Suarez moving on and with a whole host of new signings still settling in, I think that this season, teams will be traveling to Anfield with slightly more hope and a considerably more defensive mindset."

On the importance of tactical and formation flexibility - something Rodgers must develop in Europe - he added: "I'm sure that all Liverpool fans will be hoping that Brendan Rogers and his team can quickly learn to develop a Plan B by luring teams in and then hitting them quickly on the counter-attack with their lighting pace up front.

"If so, Ludogorets could be in for a long night."

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