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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.

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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

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.

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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.

Bale could miss Liverpool Champion League clash

Gareth Bale is struggling to be fit for Wednesday's clash with Liverpool. Credit: PA

Real Madrid winger Gareth Bale is battling for fitness ahead of Wednesday's Champions League match at Liverpool after the club announced he is suffering from a buttock muscle injury.

The 25-year-old Wales star was an unused substitute in Saturday's Primera Division win over Levante on his return from international duty, while reports in Spain said he also sat out training on Monday.

That raised doubts over Bale's availability for the trip to Anfield, as well as this weekend's El Clasico with Barcelona, although Madrid have said for now they will keep an eye on the player.

Rodgers says Balotelli is no Suarez

Brendan Rodgers still believes that Mario Balotelli will have a positive impact on his side Credit: PA

Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers has admitted summer signing Mario Balotelli will never match Luis Suarez's Anfield impact.

Rodgers backed the Italy striker to shrug off "unfair" criticism and end his six-game Premier League drought however, despite Balotelli missing another glorious chance in Sunday's 3-2 win at QPR.

The Liverpool boss said Balotelli's early Reds career has been blighted by comparisons with Uruguay forward Suarez, who completed a summer transfer to Barcelona.

Liverpool sneaked to victory in west London courtesy of own goals from Caulker and Richard Dunne, plus a deflected effort from Philippe Coutinho.

Eduardo Vargas twice equalised at the death for the impressive hosts, only for Sterling to force Caulker's own goal and keep QPR at the bottom of the Premier League.

The most important thing for me is his work, the guy's doing his best; he's working really hard.

The criticism of him has been unfair, yes.

And that's because he's probably seen as the direct replacement for Luis, and as I said before, Luis was irreplaceable and a real world-class talent.

– Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool Manager
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