Ignoring the previous head to heads (three wins, three clean sheets for Liverpool), Real Madrid, on paper at least, are better than the current borderline impotent Liverpool this season. It would take a brave man to argue otherwise. But, is Mario Balotelli or the world famous European night atmosphere at Anfield capable of overcoming the gulf in class tonight?
Is it simply the recent loss of one of the most effective and devastating forward partnerships Europe has seen in years, or are years of economic and commercial ignorance the cause? Ignorance, which has allowed this once footballing giant to become merely an underdog in tonight’s tussle.
Whatever the reasons, hard work and a little luck are needed for Liverpool to get a satisfactory result. Liverpool need to put themselves firmly back in the elect of European football, whom can they rely on to help them?
Mark Twain once said: ‘Give a man a reputation as an early riser and that man can sleep till noon.'
Were Liverpool duped into the idea Balotelli is a world-class striker? It is very easy to pick stats to demonstrate a theory, especially where there is an abundance of information and statistical data, as is the case for top-flight world football.
Data is amply available to show how Balotelli is both world class, as well as a flop. One stat, however, to surely get the Liverpool fans blood pressure rising - Emile Heskey found the net three times more often than Balotelli in his first nine games for Liverpool. In the Premier League alone, Balotelli’s ratio is worse than that of Sean Dundee!
If Balotelli is to avoid falling further into a slump of a ‘Torres’ magnitude (at Chelsea), he needs to come out firing on all cylinders. I believe he will.
On one of the biggest stages, on one of the biggest nights seen at Anfield, I believe Balotelli will be a force to reckon with. I think we will see plenty of running from all players tonight without exception.
Will this be the turning point for Mario Balotelli and his fledgling Liverpool career? Perhaps not. However, I do believe he will score tonight and I do think he will have a good game. Will it be enough?
Mario Balotelli has critics galore; he needs to begin to prove them wrong. Some players have the ability to gain the Kop's respect and admiration as quickly as they can lose it. A Sterling (pun intended) effort from Balotelli tonight, will very quickly change the outlook of this young player in the eyes of the Kop, who has a huge amount of expectation and anticipation forced upon him.
Also to note, Mario Balotelli has been the most fouled player in this season’s Champions League (12 times). With a historically temperamental Pepe tasked with keeping him at bay, Liverpool could have a rather interesting number of set-pieces to capitalise on.