Liverpool's Javi Manquillo, left, and Real Madrid's Isco battle for the ball. Andres Kudacki

5 talking points from last night's Champions League action

Rodgers’ bizarre team selection, Wenger’s misguided idealism and more noteworthy points.

1. Rodgers’ team selection strange at best

LIVERPOOL PUT IN a respectable performance last night in spite rather than because of Brendan Rodgers’ unusual decision to rest a number of regular first-team players.

The Reds defended manfully and frustrated their Spanish opponents while rarely threatening to score themselves.

The extent of Real’s domination was highlighted by the fact that they had 27 shots at goal compared with Liverpool’s four, nine of which were on target in contrast with just one for the visitors.

Of course, either way, Real Madrid were always going to be overwhelming favourites for the game, yet do Liverpool have a significantly better chance of beating Chelsea — who Rodgers was ostensibly saving his first-choice players for — at the weekend?

Moreover, a club of Liverpool’s calibre should surely not be adopting such a defeatist attitude on the type of big European nights they fought so hard last season to qualify for. For Rodgers to field essentially a reserve team — irrespective of how well they played — showed a level of cynicism not normally befitting of the five-time European Champions.

2. Wenger’s idealism can only take Arsenal so far

Tuesday evening’s farcical proceedings at the Emirates have become an all-too-familiar sight for long-suffering Arsenal fans.

Leading 3-0 with an hour played, the Gunners somehow contrived to let their lead slip and throw away guaranteed Champions League qualification in the process.

It is by no means the first time Arsene Wenger’s side have suffered such an ignominious fate — last night’s match had echoes of their 2011 Premier League encounter with Newcastle, when they showed a similar level of incompetence to let a four-goal lead slip.

For such a humiliation to happen once is unfortunate but twice is mere carelessness. Arsenal have long lacked the level of discipline and ruthlessness to kill teams off as Jose Mourinho’s sides, for instance, invariably do.

Unless Wenger and the players learn to belatedly change their mentality and play in a less idealistic manner when holding onto a lead — for instance, by preventing attackers from repeatedly charging forward when a less cavalier approach is needed — similar catastrophes are bound to re-occur in future.

3. Real Madrid looking in ominous form

Commentators last night more than once reflected that Real Madrid, and in particular their star man Ronaldo, looked a little off form.

Yet despite this issue, they still managed to comprehensively outplay Liverpool, gaining a victory that was as convincing as 1-0 wins come.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side, after an uncertain start in which their coterie of stars required time to bed in, have now secured 11 wins on the trot.

Along with Bayern Munich, they are deserved favourites to win the Champions League and make history by becoming the first side to lift the trophy on back-to-back occasions.

Real consequently have the air of a special team, which is why such a special achievement looks eminently feasible.

4. Time to get tough with Galatasaray 

Not for the first time last night, a Galatasaray match was mired in controversy.

With the team being well beaten, the game was twice held up in the second half owing to crowd trouble involving flares and fireworks.

Galatasaray have plenty of history, even quite recently, when it comes to these issues and still seem not to have learned from past problems.

Their own players ended up pleading with away supporters to behave and ironically, the fans’ idiocy appeared to affect the visitors given that their performance worsened as the contest progressed.

CSKA Moscow were fined and forced to play behind closed doors owing to the racist behaviour of their fans recently, and the Turkish club’s supporters surely deserve a similar punishment for endangering others with their actions for the umpteenth time last night.

5. Dortmund’s success a reflection of the Champions League’s relative weakness

Incredibly, Dortmund are 16th domestically and yet, have maintained a 100% record in the Champions League, going four games unbeaten and conceding just one goal. How can this be? How can a team be so brilliant on the one hand, and so weak on the other?

While 16th is obviously a false position for Jurgen Klopp’s side in the Bundesliga owing to their obvious talent, as evidenced by these near-faultless European displays, they remain a long way off being able to challenge rivals Bayern Munich and to being considered genuine contenders either domestically or in Europe. Their current success in the latter area can thus perhaps be explained by the relative weakness of the Champions League more than anything else.

Dortmund are, after all, up against a side who have struggled at times in the Premier League this year, as well as two other teams from considerably weaker, less competitive European leagues.

The Champions League may feature Europe’s best sides, but at this point, the depth of quality is not exactly exemplary, and several teams with serious deficiencies remain well capable of progressing to the knockout stages.

Rodgers proud of reshuffled Liverpool in Real loss>

Right off the training pitch: Leverkusen’s superb set-piece>

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