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Ronaldo chases Raul record, Suarez plays Messi catch-up – Champions League Preview

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Ronaldo chases Raul record, Suarez plays Messi catch-up - Champions League Preview

UEFA, November 4 2014: The Real Madrid star faces Liverpool needing two goals to reach another landmark, while a former Anfield striker has some way to go to catch his Barcelona team-mate.

CITY OF FEAR

Matchday four is when the Champions League starts to heat up, largely because this is when real jeopardy kicks in. And for Manchester City, the threat of elimination is very real.

Two points from three games means that finishing top of the group looks all but impossible already – and remember that last season all eight group winners made it through the round of 16 to the quarter-finals.

Instead, a battle with Roma for the runners-up spot remains. And while the Italians head to Bayern Munich for their toughest fixture, City have arguably their easiest: CSKA Moscow at home.

And yet the Premier League outfit have gone an incredible eight Champions League home games without keeping a clean sheet and, should the Russians score early in this one, the usual European jitters will become a full-on shake.

CR71?

This time Ronaldo goes first. Forced to wait last time out for Lionel Messi’s attempt to overhaul Raul’s Champions League record of 71 goals, the Portuguese nudged himself closer with a goal at Anfield.

Now, in the return game against Liverpool at the Bernabeu, Ronaldo knows that just a double will see him top the charts, if only for 24 hours.

And who would rule him out? If you exclude the Supercopa tie against Atletico, Ronaldo has scored in every single game he has played for Real Madrid this season, an astonishing haul of 22 goals that is improving his reputation where there looked to be no room for improvement.

Meanwhile, he faces a Liverpool defence that have struggled to contain even the most modest of Premier League attacks this season and who suffered their biggest ever European home defeat to Ronaldo and pals two weeks ago.

Sometimes it’s a case of when, not if, it happens but with this record the pertinent question is surely “first half or second?”

DAS STEAMROLLER

Bayern’s approach to 2014-15 looks to be an extreme sort of payback for the relative disappointment of last season, particularly their heavy defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League semi-finals.

Two weeks ago they travelled to a Roma team who had started their league season with five straight wins and demolished them 7-1. It was Roma’s joint worst defeat in the competition (Manchester United fans will remember the other 7-1) and this came in the relative comforting environs of the Olympic Stadium.

The Italians are less robust away from home and have not kept a clean sheet in any of their last 15 Champions League away games. They face a side who have won all of their home games this season and have won four of their last five at home to Italian sides in the Champions League. Quite the task.

HOMESICK

Arsenal snatched victory from the jaws of defeat two weeks ago against Anderlecht. A largely disjointed display was concluded with the Gunners scoring with the final two shots of the entire game.

Arsene Wenger will expect much more from his troops against the Belgians in north London, particularly as they have won 19 of their last 23 Champions League group games on home soil.

Teams from Belgium have not fared well in England overall, losing all six of their Champions League matches in the country, conceding an average of three goals per game.

Anderlecht have already lost at Old Trafford, Elland Road, Stamford Bridge and Anfield in the competition and you fancy Arsenal to add a fifth stadium of woe to the Belgians’ dismal Anglo record.

TOTAL SUAREZ

Ajax vs Barcelona is an evocative fixture, what with the Dutch side’s key role in the evolution of Barca’s style of play and footballing identity, but these two old giants are both aware that the modern powerhouse that is Paris Saint-Germain are top of Group F and it looks likely that only one of the teams meeting in the Amsterdam ArenA on Wednesday will progress.

Of course, Ajax are yet to win in the Champions League and lost 3-1 to the Catalans two weeks ago but they will be buoyed by the fact that Luis Enrique’s side have lost their last two Champions League away games (having not lost three in a row since 2005) and who, after a perfect start in the Primera Liga, have lost their last two league games.

This is likely to be Luis Suarez’s first Champions League appearance for Barcelona, against the only side he has played for in the competition.

At 27, Suarez is the same age as Lionel Messi and yet has scored 68 fewer Champions League goals than the Argentina star. Wednesday night would be a good place to start closing the gap.

Source: Goal.com

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