Liverpool will make their return to Champions League football tonight after a five-year absence. The Reds finished second in the Premier League last season and got a straight pass to the group stage of Europe’s premier club competition.
Brendan Rodgers’s side have been drawn against reigning European champions Real Madrid and Swiss giants FC Basel in Group B, but they will kick off their 2014-15 Champions League campaign with a rather unglamorous clash against Ludogorets Razgrad.
The Bulgarian champions are making their debut in the competition and are pretty much an unknown quantity. Many believe that Ludogorets will be the group’s whipping boys.
Ludogorets themselves know that they will find it hard to get points in this group, especially away from home – and maybe that’s why their coach Georgi Dermendzhiev hints that they will adopt a defensive style of football tonight.
‘There is a saying in football that a team plays as much as the opposition allows them but, of course, if we need to play defensively we will, but we will also use every chance to attack’, Uefa.com quotes him as saying. ‘We have our own attacking style and we plan to use it whenever we can’.
It is clear to one and all that it will be down to Liverpool to make the attacks, while their Bulgarian rivals are likely to play on the counter-attack.
Despite the absence of striker Daniel Sturridge due to injury, the Premier League giants will have a number of brilliant players in their starting line-up, including Raheem Sterling, Mario Balotelli, Steven Gerrard and Philippe Coutinho.
However, Liverpool must not become complacent. The Champions League is replete with shock results and giant-killing results, and the Reds should be wary of something similar happening to them tonight.