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Liverpool's Balotelli has manager seeing red

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has challenged Mario Balotelli to prove he has a long term future at the club.

The striker's been reprimanded after swapping shirts with a Real Madrid player at half time in last night's Champions League match at Anfield.

His actions didn't go down well with the manager or supporters as Mike Hall reports


A dressing down for Balotelli over shirt swap

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli will be reprimanded by his manager after swapping shirts with a Real Madrid player at the end of the first half of last night's Champions League match at Anfield.

Brendan Rodgers was not impressed with the Italian's actions but the Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti did not see the problem.

Henderson says Liverpool must improve

Jordan Henderson admits Liverpool must improve to compete with Europe's best Credit: PA

Liverpool vice-captain Jordan Henderson admits the lesson they were taught by Real Madrid shows just how much they have to improve to compete with Europe's elite.

A 3-0 defeat - with all the goals coming in an 18-minute first-half spell after the visitors had weathered the early storm - hardly told the full story.

The defending champions, with one eye on Saturday's El Clasico at home to Barcelona, took their foot off the gas after the break which did Liverpool a favour but still could have added to their tally.

Despite the defeat Liverpool remain third in Group B as Ludogorets' win over Basel means all the three teams who have lost to Real so far are level on three points.

This Real Madrid team is top class with the best players in the world but that's who you want to be playing against and testing yourself, always trying to improve ourselves as a team

That's where we want to get to - to be a top team like Madrid playing at the highest level and I think we can do that.

– Jordan Henderson, Liverpool footballer

Excitement builds as Madrid fans arrive in Liverpool

Real Madrid fans arrive at John Lennon Airport. Credit: PA

Real Madrid fans have started to arrive at Liverpool's John Lennon Airport ahead of their Champions League clash tonight at Anfield.

Fans arrive at Liverpool John Lennon Airport with banners and songs Credit: PA

The Spanish side are firm favourites with the bookmakers but Liverpool, who have never lost to Real Madrid in a competitive match, will hope to looking upset the odds at home.

Real Madrid are firm favourites even though history is not on their side at Anfield. Credit: PA

More fan controversy in Moscow after City draw

Vincent Kompany says it is unacceptable that CSKA Moscow seemed to have fans in the ground. Credit: Pa

In a frustrating night for City in the Russian capital they surrendered a two-goal lead to draw 2-2.

Captain Vincent Kompany claims it is "unacceptable" Manchester City had no fans at their Champions League tie at CSKA Moscow while the home side apparently did.

CSKA appeared to have around 200-300 fans backing them at a game that was officially played behind closed doors at the Khimki Arena.

European governing body UEFA ordered the stadium to be closed as punishment for persistent offences by CSKA fans, who have been found guilty of racist behaviour three times in the past year.

Despite that, 650 people were still permitted to attend and the CSKA supporters who vocally backed their team were thought to have come from within an allocation of 300 tickets set aside for sponsors.

You say 'no fans' then all of a sudden you turn up and basically the only team that hasn't got fans is Man City. So who's getting punished? Who is being done for racism? Man City or Moscow?

I don't have a problem, they'll say it's sponsors and so on and they need to give certain allocations, but why are we getting punished?

– Vincent Kompany, Manchester City Player


Fernandinho says empty stadium is not good for football

Fernandinho claims playing in an empty stadium in Moscow is of no benefit to Manchester City's Champions League quest.

No fans will be present as the Khimki Arena on Tuesday as City take on CSKA Moscow in a crucial Champions League Group E game.

CSKA have been ordered to play their next three European home matches behind closed doors as punishment for the racist behaviour of their fans.

The Russian side will therefore not have a partisan home crowd to motivate them but Fernandinho disagrees with suggestions that is to City's advantage.

I don't think it will be an advantage for us. It is always good when you play away because the fans support their team and it gives you more motivation to play well.

I don't think this is good for either team or for football.

– Fernandinho, Footballer

There are some anecdotal reports of City fans planning to watch from a neighbouring high-rise building, but the English champions will have to go it alone.

Bale out of Liverpool clash

Gareth Bale has been left out of Wednesday's game due to Muscle injury Credit: PA

Gareth Bale has been left out of Real Madrid's squad for Wednesday's Champions League clash against Liverpool as the Wales international battles a muscle injury.

Bale was unlikely to feature at Anfield after Madrid announced on Monday that the forward was suffering from a gluteal injury, and on Tuesday the world's most expensive player was a confirmed absentee from Carlo Ancelotti's 20-man squad for the trip to Anfield.

The 25-year-old was an unused substitute in Saturday's Primera Division win over Levante on his return from international duty, having played the full 90 minutes in both of Wales' Euro 2016 qualifiers against Bosnia-Herzegovina and Cyprus.

Madrid, the reigning European champions, will be defending their 100 per cent record in Champions League Group B at Liverpool, who have won one and lost one so far.

Rodgers says Ronaldo is not the only threat

Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only threat according to Brendan Rodgers. Credit: PA

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers insists his side cannot become too focused on stopping Cristiano Ronaldo in the Champions League this week as Real Madrid have enough quality to hurt them elsewhere.

Real's other flying forward Gareth Bale is unlikely to feature because of an injury which kept him out of the weekend's 5-0 win over Levante but Ronaldo will undoubtedly take centre stage in the Group B clash at Anfield on Wednesday.

The Portugal international arrives on the back of breaking at 71-year La Liga record by scoring 15 goals in the first eight matches of the season and while his talent cannot be under-estimated, Rodgers stressed it would be foolish to focus solely on him.

They are as strong a team now as they have been for many years. They have everything, big experience, big players, speed, technique and a great manager in (Carlo) Ancelotti, a good man who works with players and who is a good person.

– Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool Manager told Spanish newspaper AS

Liverpool go into game on the back of a poor performance at QPR which - even though ended in victory - did little for confidence.

Captain Steven Gerrard admitted afterwards if they reproduced a similar display against Real they would have "no chance" of winning, but Rodgers believes the status of the fixture will bring out the best in his players.

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