What a game we have in-store tonight. Liverpool vs Real Madrid in the Champions League at Anfield. Does it get any bigger?
Two weeks ago, most of a Liverpool persuasion would have been dreading this match-up. But thankfully for them, things now look rather different.
It’s amazing what a couple of wins and a couple of clean sheets can do for the confidence. With top four now very much back on for the Reds, they welcome Madrid with renewed vigour.
From a Liverpool viewpoint, there’s only one cloud hanging over tonight’s game – Darwin Nunez’s fitness. Having been taken off early with a shoulder issue on Saturday, Reds fans will be praying he heals in time. With that in mind, here’s how we think they’ll line up.
As if anyone needed reminding, Alisson Becker once again proved why he’s one of the best in the world against Newcastle. Up against another of those fighting for that crown – Thibaut Cortouis – hopefully he won’t be needed quite as much tonight.
How much Alisson will be needed may depend a lot on Trent Alexander-Arnold. Facing the rambunctious Vinicius Junior, Trent will have to be at his best.
So too will Virgil van Dijk. He’ll get help from Joe Gomez, but Liverpool will be looking to their No.4 to take the lead in shackling Ballon d’Or holder Karim Benzema.
At left-back, Andy Robertson will continue in an unchanged defensive five.
Liverpool’s midfield has been so much better over recent weeks. A big factor in that is without doubt the form of young Stefan Bajcetic.
The ‘exceptional’ Spaniard would not have seen it coming at the start of the year, but he’s in-line to play against the champions of his home-land tonight.
Next to him, Fabinho’s resurgence means he’s a shoo-in to play, while Jordan Henderson should once again get the nod over Naby Keita.
Here’s where the big question lies for Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool. First, let’s get the easy one out of the way – Mohamed Salah isn’t missing this one.
Had he not been injured at Newcastle, Nunez would have been similarly certain to start. The issue he picked up on Saturday has clouded that slightly. Luckily though, the Uruguayan looked fit and well during yesterday’s session. As one of Liverpool’s main attacking threats, that means he should play.
Alongside Salah and Nunez, we don’t see why Klopp would take Cody Gakpo out of the side tonight. Had Diogo Jota or Roberto Firmino got on the score-sheet on Saturday that might have changed. But with both still a bit rusty, Gakpo should go again.
When everyone returns to fitness this is arguably not a million miles from Liverpool’s best XI. At this present time, it surely has to be. Anfield and a huge European night awaits. Come on you Reds!
Liverpool’s predicted XI vs Real Madrid: Alisson; Alexader-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Bajcetic; Salah, Gakpo, Nunez
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