Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will have a number of important decisions to make in picking his team to face Real Madrid in tonight’s Champions League last-16 second leg clash at the Bernabeu. The Reds will need to score at least three goals to stand any chance of reaching the quarter-finals after losing 5-2 at Anfield in the reverse fixture but stranger things have happened and they will be in no mood to give up the chase in spite of the task ahead.
Express Sport takes a look at the Liverpool side that could be tasked with mounting what would be one of the greatest Champions League comebacks of all time against Real Madrid this evening…
Goalkeeper – Alisson
Alisson Becker will start for Liverpool between the sticks tonight and will almost certainly need to keep a clean sheet for the Reds to stand even the faintest chance of reaching the last eight of Champions League. He failed to do so against Bournemouth in the Premier League on Saturday, but there was little he could have done about Philip Billing’s decisive goal before half-time at the Vitality Stadium.
Nevertheless, he will be hoping to redeem himself with a shut-out against the reigning European champions, although it will be far from easy for him to prevent the likes of Karim Benzema and Vinicius Junior from finding the back of the net over the course of the 90 minutes.
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Defence – Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Konate, Robertson
Although Klopp may be tempted to make a couple of changes to his back four to face Real Madrid, it seems likely that he will send out the same quartet that failed to stop Bournemouth from scoring on Saturday as they look to prove their collective worth. This would see Trent Alexander-Arnold remain at right-back, with Andrew Robertson on the opposite flank, while a central pairing of Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate will likely be tasked with keeping things tight in the heart of defence.
Van Dijk’s questionable defending in the build-up to Bournemouth’s winning goal on the weekend has sparked plenty of calls for him to be dropped over the last few days, although the absence of Joe Gomez through injury is set to see the Dutchman retain his spot at the back against Real Madrid this evening.
Midfield – Elliot, Fabinho, Milner
Liverpool will remain without injured duo Thiago Alcantara and Naby Keita at the Bernabeu, which means that Klopp’s options are set to be limited when it comes to picking his midfield trio. Arthur Melo and Jordan Henderson have also been ruled out of the tie.
That could leave Klopp with little choice but to play Harvey Elliot and James Milner in his midfielder. Fabinho, meanwhile, could retain his place in the middle in order to provide some extra stability in front of Liverpool’s back four.
Attack – Salah, Firmino, Jota
It will be crucial to Liverpool to produce a complete attacking performance against Real Madrid tonight in order to stand any chance of progressing into the next round of the Champions League, which should see Klopp pick his three best forwards as a result. Cody Gakpo impressed in the seven-goal thrashing of Manchester United earlier this month but could be dropped in favour of Diogo Jota, who has struggled to get going this season but may be trusted to feature at the top of the pitch this evening.
Jota is likely to be joined up front by Reds talisman Mohamed Salah, with the Egyptian desperate to make up for his missed penalty at the Vitality Stadium over the weekend, while Roberto Firmino could start ahead of Darwin Nunez if Klopp decides to rest the Uruguayan after a disappointing performance against Bournemouth.
Possible Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Konate, Robertson; Elliot, Fabinho, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Jota.