Fabinho and Harvey Elliott are reportedly ‘likely’ to be named in Liverpool’s starting XI on Wednesday night when the Reds will seek to execute another historic Champions League comeback against Real Madrid. Jurgen Klopp’s side trail last season’s winners, who beat them 1-0 in the final in Paris, 5-2 heading into second leg – meaning the Premier League side will have to score at least three goals to progress.
But the Reds will have to do it the hard way as captain Jordan Henderson and Stefan Bajcetic have been ruled out through illness and injury in a damaging blow for the visitors.
It means Klopp is virtually down to the bare bones in the middle of the park with Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita still unavailable.
The Liverpool Echo are reporting that Fabinho (an obvious starter) and Elliott are therefore ‘likely’ to get the nod in midfield as Klopp ponders a potential switch of formation.
The German’s two options are to throw experienced veteran James Milner into the mix and stick with a 4-3-3 or alternatively, drop Elliott and play Fabinho and Milner as a two-man pivot.
With Liverpool in need of goals, that change would surely be welcomed by supporters as it would hand Klopp the freedom to select four attacking players.
Mohamed Salah, Darwin Nunez and Cody Gakpo are all expected to start while Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are also hopeful of breaking into the team.
Both Nunez and Salah were on target in the first leg at Anfield as Liverpool stormed into a 2-0 lead inside 14 minutes but Real Madrid rallied back before eventually tearing the hosts to shreds.
And if Liverpool are to somehow progress in Madrid, this will need to be a near perfect performance from the Reds, who will have to keep the likes of Vinicius Jr and Karim Benzema at bay for 90 minutes.
Despite acknowledging that Liverpool are facing an uphill battle, Klopp insists his player will “give it a try” as they bid to write another famous European night.
“I said three weeks ago, Madrid with their result are through to the next round,” said Klopp.
“Now we are here three weeks later and we know there’s a game to play.
“If there’s only a 1 per cent chance, I would like to give it a try. We’re here to play an extremely strong opponent and try to win the game.
“As difficult as it is, it’s not likely, but possible. For that, we are here, we’ll see where it leads us to.”
On the road to their 2019 Champions League triumph, Liverpool overturned a 3-0 deficit on home soil by beating Barcelona 4-0 at Anfield.
It’s a scoreline and night that the Reds can take great inspiration from, particularly given they were without both Salah and Roberto Firmino on the night.
The Reds have not endured much like against Real Madrid having previously been beaten in two Champions League finals against Los Blancos (2018 and 2022) plus in the 2020/21 quarter-finals as Klopp looks to exorcise his side’s old demons by pulling off something spectacular.
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