Liverpool will kick off their 2014-15 Champions League campaign by welcoming Bulgarian outfit Ludogorets Razgrad to Anfield on Tuesday September 16. The Reds end a five-year absence from the elite European tournament with a home fixture against a team that they have never previously met competitively.
The Reds were pitted against the holders of the competition in Thursday’s draw in Monaco, and they’ll also face trips to Switzerland and Bulgaria. Madrid, who claimed their 10th European Cup with victory over city rivals Atletico in Lisbon earlier this year, last locked horns with Liverpool back in the 2008-09 campaign. The teams met at the last 16 stage and after Yossi Benayoun’s late header secured a famous 1-0 first-leg win at the Bernabeu, the Reds ran riot in the return at Anfield – powering to a 4-0 triumph in front of the Kop. The only other competitive game between the teams came in the 1981 final in Paris when Alan Kennedy’s goal sealed a 1-0 win for Bob Paisley’s team.
Liverpool also have recent history with Basel after they were pitted against each other in the Champions League first group stage in 2002-03. The first encounter ended in a 1-1 draw at Anfield, while the Reds came from three goals down at half-time to draw 3-3 at St-Jakob Park. Basel have won the Swiss league title five times in a row.
Meanwhile, Liverpool have never faced Champions League newcomers Ludogorets Razgrad previously. The Bulgarian title holders secured their place in the competition in incredible circumstances against Steaua Bucharest in the play-offs. After trailing by a goal from the first leg in Romania, Wanderson netted a last-minute volley to force extra time in Razgrad. However, they were reduced to 10 men when goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was sent off in the 119th minute. It meant centre-back Cosmin Moti was required to go in goal for the penalty shootout – and he emerged the hero, sensationally saving two spot kicks to ensure Ludogorets progressed 6-5 on penalties.
2014-15 Champions League fixtures
September 16 – Ludogorets Razgrad (H)
October 1 – FC Basel (A)
October 22 – Real Madrid (H)
November 4 – Real Madrid (A)
November 26 – Ludogorets Razgrad (A)
December 9 – FC Basel (H)