Champions League - Rodgers excited by prospect of 'special' night against Real Madrid

Brendan Rodgers is looking forward to a great European night at Anfield after Liverpool were drawn in the same Champions League group as Real Madrid.

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Liverpool fans show their support at the Kop end of Anfield ahead of the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Newcastle

After an absence of five years, Liverpool return this season to the competition they have won five times, with two mouthwatering fixtures against the reigning champions on the horizon.

Rodgers's side were handed a largely favourable draw and, along with the Spanish giants, they will face Switzerland's FC Basel and Bulgarian debutants Ludogorets Razgrad in Group B.

[LIVERPOOL DRAWN WITH REAL MADRID IN CHAMPIONS LEAGUE]

But it is the tie at Anfield on October 22 that has whet Rodgers' appetite, when Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale et al visit Merseyside for what promises to be a night to remember.

"To be back in it again, no matter who we were going to play, was always going to be exciting," Rodgers said.

"But to have Real Madrid in your group, the champions last season, is going to be special. I'm already thinking of Anfield on that night. I'll be very proud, but more proud for the players and the supporters, for what they have put into us arriving there.

"They will be critical and they are going to be key for us throughout the league campaign and the Champions League campaign. The nights at Anfield are really special.

"To see that flag back out in the middle of the pitch and for the supporters to get behind their team, like they do, is going to be an amazing experience.

"There are two other good teams in it along with us. It's a tough group, but we'll really look forward to the challenge of getting out of the group.

"The notion for us was to get out of the group stage - we can look no further than that."

[THE GROUP STAGE DRAW AS IT HAPPENED]

The two traditional heavyweight of European football have met three times before, with Liverpool winning all three matches, most famously the 1981 European Cup final.

More recently, the pair met over two legs in 2009, when the Reds registered a 5-0 aggregate win, including a 4-0 victory at Anfield. That result, masterminded by Rafa Benitez against Juande Ramos's admittedly fading Real side, was impressive, but Liverpool can expect a tougher assignment this time around.

Real, who beat Atletico Madrid in last season's final to pick up their 10th European crown, have further strengthened their squad with the addition of World Cup star James Rodriguez over the summer and now boast the world's most expensive attack force.

For one of those forwards, Ronaldo, the trip to Anfield will be particularly significant, given his previous allegiance to Liverpool's bitter rivals Manchester United.

"It'll be nice, I've never played there for Real Madrid," Ronaldo said. "Liverpool is a very, very difficult stadium. But we are Real Madrid so we're going to try to win.

"Liverpool are a fantastic team. They came very close last year to winning the Premier League. But in general the group is nice and it's going to be good for Real Madrid."

The return fixture at the Bernabeu takes place on November 4.

Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre was equally excited by the draw and said: "I'm pleased with this group. It's particularly special to have Real Madrid in the group.

"We respect everyone, but we have great memories of games against Real Madrid and I think it makes for a great competition for us.

"It's fantastic. If you look at Liverpool as a football club, this is our competition - five times winners playing against somebody who has just won it for a 10th time. That just makes for a very special part of the competition. It makes it a very special group.

"The expectation is the same as it was before the group was drawn and it was always to qualify from the group."

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