LIVERPOOL – Reigning European champions Real Madrid handed Liverpool a lesson in a 3-0 win at Anfield on Wednesday.
The Reds were second best for most of the match, as Real rolled into Merseyside and returned to the Spanish capital with all three points to put them top of Group B with three wins from three.
As for Liverpool, another poor defensive display sees them in third place in their group on three points, with a trip to the Santiago Bernabeu coming up on Nov. 4. That could turn into a nightmare for Brendan Rodgers’ men after this showing.
Here’s three things we learned from a disappointing night for the Liverpool faithful.
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Liverpool’s defense worsening
Last season everyone knew how bad Liverpool’s defense was. Pretty terrible. They conceded 50 goals in 38 PL games last term and could ship even more this season. With $40 million spent on Dejan Lovren and $30 million on Alberto Moreno, plus the addition of Javier Manquillo, you’d think they’d have shored things up at the back. Think again. On Sunday against QPR they should have been 3-0 down and made Bobby Zamora look like Cristiano Ronaldo (no disrespect, Bob). Then on Wednesday at Anfield, the real Ronaldo tore them apart as Real put on a clinic. Simon Mignolet came with his feet instead of his hands for the third goal as he continues to underwhelm. Lovren was caught out of position for Ronaldo’s first following a deft dink from James, and the amount of time Toni Kroos was given to find Benzema for Real’s second was criminal. Much has been made of Liverpool’s lack of goals after losing Luis Suarez for good and Daniel Sturridge through injury at the start of this season, but at the back they are really struggling.
James, Ronaldo, Benzema are just too darn good
Real’s opener was simply sublime. Ronaldo picked the ball up 40-yards out, gave it to James Rodriguez and the Colombian dinked a perfect ball into Ronaldo who hooked home. That strike was Ronaldo’s 70th goal all-time in the Champions League, leaving him just one short of equaling the record total of Real legend Raul. Karim Benzema popped up twice to prove he is a predator of epic proportions, as the Reds just couldn’t handle the fluid movement of Real’s front three. Real looked like they can defend their Champions League title easily on this showing.
In the 75th minute Ronaldo was substituted. Something strange then happened at Anfield. The home fans applauded the superstar, who previously played for their bitter rivals Manchester United. They did the same for Marcelo and Toni Kroos. Class acts all around. And, oh yeah, if they needed more top attackers, Gareth Bale is out injured…
Balotelli experiment could be over, but Lallana’s the man
Hooked off at half time for a poor display, Mario Balotleli cut a forlorn figure up top for the Reds. The Italian international infuriated home supporters with his Jekyll and Hyde display, as he has now scored just once in nine appearances for the Reds since arriving from AC Milan for $26 million. Balotelli swapped shirts with Real Madrid defender Pepe in the tunnel at half time, as the home fans are starting to lose patience with the eccentric forward. Liverpool looked more dangerous with Sterling as the lone front man and Adam Lallana (Balotelli’s replacement) supporting him.
The movement was better with Lallana on the pitch and the Reds looked more fluid. Balotelli’s talent is there for all to see but his workrate, which impressed in his opening games, has dissipated drastically.