Real Madrid take all three midfield spots while Mohamed Salah starts on the right wing after his recent return to form… but who else makes Sportsmail’s combined Liverpool-Real Madrid XI?
- Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday
- The two sides faced in the competition’s final last year and in 2018
- Who makes Sportsmail’s XI from two of Europe’s most successful teams?
The Champions League has thrown up an excellent last 16 clash between two of the tournament’s most successful sides, as Liverpool host Real Madrid on Tuesday.
In the past decade, at least one of these sides has featured in all but three UCL finals, including the 2018 and 2022 finals where they faced each other.
The tie comes at an interesting time in the season for both sides. Liverpool are beginning to find some form after two wins in their last two games, but still sit eighth in the league after a poor start to the season.
Real have also been slightly off the pace, and currently sit eight points off league leaders Barcelona after 22 games. They come into the tie having won each of their last six games across all competitions.
With that in mind, Sportsmail has named a combined XI – but who makes it into our line-up?
Liverpool take on Real Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last 16 clash on Tuesday
Jurgen Klopp’s side have won their last two games after a tricky first half of the season
Goalkeeper- Allison (Liverpool)
Allison has been among Liverpool’s best players this season despite often shaky performances from the backline in front of him and picked up seven clean sheets in the league.
He is run close by Thibaut Courtois, who has been one of the premier goalkeepers in world football over the past decade and was named man of the match in the UCL final last year after making nine saves against Liverpool, but Allison has played a bigger role for his side this season given the struggles of those in front of him.
Right back- Trent Alexander-Arnold (Liverpool)
Despite occasional concerns over his ability to defend, Alexander-Arnold is among the best passers in the Premier League, and has put in some top performances in recent games.
The England right back looked to be somewhere near his best in the Reds last game as he picked up an assist in their win against Newcastle.
His crosses and dead ball play could be vital as Liverpool look to work their way into the quarter finals.
Centre back- Virgil van Dijk (Liverpool)
Van Dijk returned to the Liverpool starting XI for their last game and they instantly looked a better side with the Dutch defender in their ranks.
There was a clear lack of leadership at the back for their 3-0 loss to Wolves at the start of the month, but having their big number four back looks to have made a big difference.
Eder Militao has impressed at Real since arriving at the club in 2018, but van Dijk has been among the world’s best defenders in his time at Anfield and is a must-pick for this side.
Virgil van Dijk made his first start of the month against Newcastle after recovering from injury
Trent Alexander-Arnold showed off his excellent crossing ability in Liverpool’s last game and assisted one of the goals
Centre back- Antonio Rudiger (Real Madrid)
Partnering the Dutchman is former Chelsea defender Rudiger.
He hasn’t had his best season in Madrid and has suffered from comparisons with Andreas Christensen, who left the Blues at the same time to join Barcelona, but the 29-year-old is still a clever and experienced centre back who will know the Liverpool players well from his time in England.
Rudiger played a key role in Chelsea’s Champions League win back in 2021.
Left back- David Alaba (Real Madrid)
Alaba has been unable to recreate his best form from his Bayern Munich days at Real in the past couple of seasons, but he does come into the game with over 100 caps in European football and three UCL titles.
Andy Robertson is an excellent eft back that has won everything there is to win with Liverpool, but he lacks Alaba’s experience and has lost his head at times this season.
Centre mid- Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
He may be 37, but Modric showed in last year’s World Cup, where he won the Bronze Ball award as Croatia came third.
The midfielder doesn’t sprint around the pitch with the regularity he once did, but he still finds ways to get himself into space and possesses one of the best ranges of passing in world football.
Liverpool will have to keep Modric quiet if they are to top the service into Real’s front three.
Centre mid- Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid)
A versatile player who has filled in at left back this season, Camavinga has established himself at the Bernabeu despite being just 20-years-old.
He is yet to miss a La Liga game this season for Carlo Ancelotti’s side and looks an integral part of their side.
Dani Cabellos has also performed nicely for Real in a more advanced role but the Italian boss seems to prefer the more defensive option.
Karim Benzema picked up the Ballon d’Or last year on the back of an excellent Champions League campaign
Centre mid- Federico Valverde (Real Madrid)
It seems an odd thing to say about a player with close to 200 La Liga appearances, but Valverde has enjoyed something of a breakthrough season scoring seven league goals in 22 games after managing just five in his previous five seasons.
He scored at the weekend in a 2-0 win over Osasuna, and his pace from midfield may cause problems for Liverpool
Right wing- Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
Salah has struggled to match his league form Liverpool fans are used to this season, but has looked more like his old self in their past two games.
The Egypt international scored in the win over Everton and cause Newcastle problems with his pace and picked up an assist in their last game.
He is also the joint top scorer in the Champions League this season after bagging seven in the group stage.
Centre forward- Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
The Ballon d’Or holder has last year’s Champions League campaign to thank for the illustrious award.
Benzema netted 15 times in 12 UCL appearances last season, with hat-tricks in the knockout stage against Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea on the way to a fifth winners medal in the competition.
He’s picked up 11 goals in 13 league games this season, but failed to score in any of his four European appearances.
Vinicius Junior scored the winner in last year’s Champions League final against Liverpool
Left wing- Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
Liverpool fans will remember Vinicius well after he scored the only goal against them in last season’s Champions League final.
The Brazil star is devastatingly quick and has added goals to his game, netting 38 times since the start of last season after never previously passing 10 in a season for Real.
His battle with Alexander-Arnold could be telling in the outcome of the tie.
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