Rodgers: Real Madrid clash will be ‘special’

The Northern Irishman believes being paired with the reigning European champions is just reward for the Reds’ surprise second-placed finish in last season’s Premier League

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers is thrilled at the prospect of facing Real Madrid in this season’s Champions League group stages.

Thursday’s draw in Monaco pitted Liverpool in Group B alongside the titleholders, as well as Swiss outfit Basel and Ludogorets of Bulgaria.

Liverpool’s second-placed finish in the Premier League last season earned them a place in the Champions League for the first time since 2009-10, and being drawn against Madrid gives the club the chance to repeat the feats of the 2008-09 season, when the Reds dispatched the Spanish giants 5-0 on aggregate in the second round.

As 10-time winners of the competition, Real have twice as many crowns as Liverpool, and Rodgers is eagerly anticipating the contests ahead.

“Initially, we’re excited,” he told the club’s official website. “That was last season’s hard work, what we were working towards – getting Liverpool back into a competition where we are synonymous.

“To be back in it again, no matter who we were going to play, it was always going to be exciting. But to have Real Madrid in your group, the champions last season, is going to be special.

“I’m already thinking of Anfield on that night. But there are two other good teams in it along with us. It’s a tough group but we’ll really look forward to the challenge of getting out of the group.”

Despite the sense of anticipation, Rodgers is refusing to get too carried away by planning for life beyond the first round.

“The notion for us was to get out of the group stage – we can look no further than that,” he said.

“It was great excitement and hopefully it was great for the supporters to sit and watch the draw for the first time in five years.

“Now we know the teams that we’re playing, we’ll focus to get out of the group. That’s as far as you can look. Once you get out of the group stages, you take it from there.

“Preparation will start straight away. Some of the teams we’re well aware of; we watch the likes of Real Madrid nearly every week and we know their players.

“But as soon as the draw is finalised, the work and the focus will be on that. We have our analysis team behind the scenes who will do all the preparation work we need for our opponents. It will be exciting for them as well.”

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