The 2014-15 campaign was always going to be a major test for Liverpool.
The Reds had suffered the emotional trauma of coming agonisingly close to winning the Premier League title at the end of the previous season – capitulating during the closing weeks – and then had to deal with losing their best player that summer.
Luis Suarez left Anfield for Barcelona, Steven Gerrard wasn’t the same player he once was, while there were also murmurs that Raheem Sterling wasn’t entirely happy at the club. Daniel Sturridge, meanwhile, couldn’t keep himself fit.
Brendan Rodgers made several signs that summer that failed to pan out – including the acquisitions of Lazar Markovic, Mario Balotelli and Rickie Lambert – and the Reds ended up finishing sixth in the Premier League that season.
They also crashed out of the Champions League in the group stages, despite beating Ludogorets 2-1 in their opening match.
Back-to-back defeats against FC Basel and Real Madrid left them with an uphill struggle – and then on November 4, they faced Madrid again at the Bernabeu.
Liverpool’s XI v Madrid in November 2014 was pure banter
But can you remember how Liverpool’s starting line-up looked that night?
Rodgers basically threw in the towel, opting instead to prioritise the Premier League clash against Chelsea four days later.
The Northern Irish coach named Gerrard, Sterling, Jordan Henderson and Philippe Coutinho all among the substitutes.
But this is how the starting line-up looked that evening…
Imagine deliberately deploying that team at the Bernabeu of all places.
Yep – Liverpool lost. But only 1-0
Needless to say, Liverpool lost the match. However, they weren’t humiliated against Carlo Ancelotti’s galaxy of stars.
In fairness to the players who played that night, they put up a surprisingly impressive fight and only lost the match 1-0.
Karim Benzema’s first-half goal was the only thing that separated the two teams at full-time.
Rodgers sent on Gerrard, Sterling and Coutinho in the second half but they were unable to help Liverpool find the equaliser.
Even Gareth Bale was surprised by Liverpool’s XI
“I was surprised by how many changes [they made],” Gareth Bale told ITV, per Goal, after the match. “But they worked hard, they gave a good account of themselves.
“It’s always difficult coming to the Bernabeu, playing against us. We’re always confident at our home ground, but they played well.
“Under Brendan Rodgers they’re playing some great football, they’re obviously going through a bit of a sticky patch but that happens to teams and I think they’ll come out of it stronger and back to their best.”
Rodgers’ plan backfired
Unfortunately for Liverpool, Rodgers’ plan backfired.
His side drew both of their next two Champions League group matches – against Ludogorets and Basel – and subsequently finished third in Group B.
They were then eliminated from Europe completely after losing to Besiktas in the Europa League Round of 32 in February 2015.