Real Madrid travel to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final with a 3-1 lead in the bag, but Liverpool will be looking to exploit some weak spots in Los Blancos‘ XI.
With a two-goal lead behind them, the Spanish champions make the trip north in what looks to be a comfortable position, but their ever-expanding injury list gives them cause for concern.
Thibaut Courtois offers Zinedine Zidane a sense of comfort at the back, but what sits in front of him, particularly to his right, will have Jurgen Klopp‘s frontmen licking their lips.
Both Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane are out. Their importance needn’t be stated. But Nacho Fernandez and Eder Militao have done well without their two World Cup winners, and they impressed again in Saturday’s Clasico.
At right-back, though, Real Madrid are vulnerable. Lucas Vazquez‘s season-ending injury leaves Zidane without one of his most trusted and most consistent performers this season, and he himself was only playing there because of Dani Carvajal‘s absence.
In his place, Alvaro Odriozola could be set to play arguably the biggest game of his career. While the former Real Sociedad full-back is undoubtedly talented, he hasn’t shown anything like his best form since moving to the capital, nor could he find form – or even minutes – on loan at Bayern Munich in the second half of last season.
Confidence often makes ability a secondary factor in football, though, and Odriozola could be forgiven for lacking some self-belief. It has become clear this season that Zidane does not have confidence in the 25-year-old, even using Lucas there instead of trusting him.
Zidane may even consider a surprise selection by playing Fede Valverde at right-back, much like Diego Simeone’s move to put Marcos Llorente there in Kieran Trippier’s absence this season, but he himself left the Clasico with a knock. There are reports that Valverde could receive an injection in order to play, but it is unclear whether he would line up at right-back or in midfield.
Ferland Mendy‘s form and versatility offers a solution, though. In order to compensate for being slightly weaker at the back, Zidane could add more numbers there and line up with a five-man defence, as he has done on occasion this season.
Odriozola and Marcelo could find themselves lining up as wing-backs, ahead of a back three of Militao, Nacho and Mendy.
Liverpool would undoubtedly target both flanks, with Odriozola having obvious questions hanging over him and Marcelo‘s defensive issues being highlighted whenever he has played this season.
Zidane‘s side have been impressive defensively this season and, however they line up, they’re likely to be face a serious test on Wednesday in England.