Liverpool finished in second place in Group A, behind the Italian powerhouses Napoli, to set up a rematch with the champions, who won their group by defeating Celtic, Shakhtar Donetsk, and RB Leipzig to take first position.
- Darwin Nunez was forced off just before the hour mark with a painful shoulder problem. He is set to undergo further assessment in the coming hours to determine whether or not he will be available for Tuesday following Liverpool’s victory over Newcastle at the weekend. T
- The Uruguayan was spotted in training on Monday, but in the event that he is unable to play, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino will engage in a hard struggle to complete the attack. The former may emerge victorious in that head-to-head matchup if Klopp decides to put Gakpo centrally once more.
- The rest of Liverpool’s confirmed absentees are Luis Diaz, Ibrahima Konate, Thiago Alcantara, and Calvin Ramsay. Arthur is still a question mark as he continues to recover from thigh surgery, which means that the vivacious teenager Stefan Bajcetic can look forward to a deserved start against the European champions.
- In a similar vein, Real may be concerned about the fitness of their star striker Karim Benzema after he was forced to miss the game against Osasuna due to muscular fatigue; however, Ancelotti anticipates that the reigning Ballon d’Or winner will be fully recovered for Tuesday’s match after getting the much-needed rest he required.
- The important midfield duo of Aurelien Tchouameni and Toni Kroos have both been suffering from illness, and both players have been left out of the team today, thus Eduardo Camavinga and Dani Ceballos should probably join Luka Modric in the trio instead.
- Courtois, who made nine saves in the final of last year’s tournament, has recovered from a hamstring issue and will start on his return to English turf. Left-back Ferland Mendy is expected to miss several more weeks with a thigh injury, and backup striker Mariano Diaz has also picked up an injury that has rendered him unavailable.
Liverpool: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold; Gomez; van Dijk; Robertson; Bajcetic; Fabinho; Henderson; Salah; Gakpo; and Jota.
Real Madrid: Courtois; Carvajal, Militao, Rudiger, Alaba; Ceballos, Camavinga, Modric; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius Jr.
The outcome of the highly-anticipated first leg could very well depend on how many players Klopp and Ancelotti are able to bring back from the treatment room, but an exciting confrontation should still be in store for the fans.
Real Madrid are never to be underestimated in the Champions League and should have Benzema fit and firing in a fearsome attack, so we simply cannot separate the two continental giants and believe that everything will be left to play for at the Bernabeu next month. Although Liverpool have regained some momentum at the right time and can expose Real’s fitness concerns in midfield, Los Blancos are never to be underestimated in the Champions League.
Our prediction is Liverpool 1-2 Real Madrid