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Liverpool vs Ludogorets Preview, Team News, Likely Line-Ups, Key Man + Prediction

Champions League football returns to Anfield this evening when Liverpool entertain Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets in their Group B opener. Here’s a preview.

Anfield Kop

Champions League football returns to Anfield this evening when Liverpool entertain Bulgarian minnows Ludogorets in their Group B opener.

The Reds were last in Europe’s premier competition five years ago when they lost 2-1 at home to Fiorentina in December 2009, and Brendan Rodgers believes the club is now back where they belong.

A second placed finish in the Premier League last season secured the Merseysiders place in the Champions League and they will be keen to get their campaign off to a positive start with three points with games against Real Madrid and Basel to come.

Liverpool will also be desperate to get back on track following their shock 1-0 loss to Aston Villa on Saturday, which means Rodgers men have now lost two of their opening four Premier League games.

Ludogorents arrive at Anfield having enjoyed a fairy-tale run that’s seen them only gain promotion to the Bulgarian top flight in 2011, and they secured their place in the group stages of the Champions League for the first time in their history with a dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Steaua Bucharest.

Team News

Liverpool will be without Serbian winger Lazar Markovic as he’s suspended for the game following his red card in the Europa League semi-final second leg while playing for Benfica last season.

Raheem Sterling was rested at the weekend so is certain to return to the starting eleven in his place.

Daniel Sturridge remains out with a thigh injury so Mario Balotelli will continue through the middle, with Adam Lallana set to make his European debut.

Emre Can and Joe Allen are still out, so they join Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and Jon Flanagan on the sidelines.

Ludogorets first choice goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov is suspended following his sending off against Steaua and No.2 Ivan Cvorovic is out injured, so the visitors are being forced to start a goalkeeper they only signed two days ago.

Likely Line-Up

Key Man

Mario Balotelli: The Italian was relatively quiet during Liverpool’s defeat to Villa and Rodgers will be looking for a lot more from his main striker this evening, but I wouldn’t bet against him breaking his duck for the club tonight.

Predicted Score

Liverpool 3-0 Ludogorets: The Bulgarian minnows will no doubt be well up for this game but Liverpool’s far superior quality should come through in the end to help ease them to a comfortable victory.

What team would you select and what’s your predicted score for the game?

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