Reds relish Real fixtures

Reds relish Real fixtures

Reds relish Real fixtures

First published in Sport

LIVERPOOL are relishing the prospect of hosting reigning Champions League winners Real Madrid after the Reds were handed a glamorous return to the European stage.

Five-times European champions Liverpool will face ten-times winners Real - as well as Basle and Ludogorets, the Bulgarian side who had a fairy-tale win in the play-offs - in Group B while there was a familiar look to the draw for the three other English sides.

Manchester City have perhaps the toughest group - they will face Bayern Munich for the third time in four years - plus CSKA Moscow and Roma in Group E, while Arsenal will play Borussia Dortmund for the second year running as well as Galatasaray and Anderlecht.

In Group G, Chelsea will play German side Schalke for the second consecutive season plus Sporting Lisbon and Maribor - who put out Celtic in the play-offs.

Real Madrid may be a daunting prospect for Brendan Rodgers’ side, but Liverpool beat the Spanish giants 5-0 on aggregate in 2009 including a 4-0 hammering at Anfield.

Liverpool chief executive Ian Ayre said: “If you look at Liverpool as a football club this is our competition, we’ve won it five times and to play someone who has won it ten times makes it extra special.”

Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo - named as the European player of the 2013/14 season - believes the club can become the first to successfully defend the Champions League trophy.

He said: “Why not? Everything is possible. I had the opportunity to do it when I was at Manchester United and now for Real Madrid - the biggest clubs in the world so I am looking forward to getting a second chance.”

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