Predicted XI

Champions League team news: How Real Madrid and Liverpool could line up

The Reds are out to avenge the 2018 Champions League final when they meet Real Madrid.

9:08am on Monday 5th April 2021
Nicholas Hughes

Liverpool will face the demons of their 2018 Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid when they face Zinedine Zidane’s side on Tuesday night.

Madrid have won four games in a row and are unbeaten in all competitions since the beginning of February, slashing Atletico’s lead in La Liga to just three points.

Liverpool themselves are also finding some form with three wins on the spin suddenly putting them back into contention for a place in the top four in the Premier League.

The big team news coming into this first leg is that Sergio Ramos will be missing, with Madrid likely to be without their captain for the second leg as well.

Ramos returned from international duty with a calf problem and has been ruled out along with Dani Carvajal and Federico Valverde.

Zidane was able to rest Raphael Varane in the win against Eibar, and the Frenchman should return at the heart of defence.

Toni Kroos only played half an hour in that win and should be fresh from the start, as should Vinicius Junior in the front three.

Eden Hazard is a chance to be involved in the matchday squad, but with just 15 minutes of football under his belt since the end of January, a start is almost impossible for the German.

Liverpool have a fairly settled squad coming into the tie, with their only absentees the already known long-term ones. Jordan Henderson is a chance to return come the end of the season, but not for either of these legs.

Nat Phillips and Ozan Kabak will continue their partnership in central defence – they have yet to concede in the four games in which they have started together.

Gini Wijnaldum was given most of Saturday’s win against Arsenal off after the international break, but should return to the side and inherit the captain’s armband from James Milner.

Jurgen Klopp will have a big decision to make up front after Diogo Jota’s off-the-bench brace at the Emirates. The Portuguese has scored six goals in his last four games for club and country after missing three months due to injury.

It would be unlike Klopp to sacrifice one of his usual front three in a big Champions League knockout game, though, and he will likely go with tried and trusted with Jota waiting in the wings from the bench.

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