Minus Gerrard, Brazilian makes Liverpool’s best XI in Madrid

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If rumours ring true, Brendan Rodgers will surprise many with his decision to rest Steven Gerrard for Liverpool’s ominous fixture at Champions League holders Real Madrid.

Modern-day Gerrard could do little to reverse his side’s fortunes against arguably Europe’s finest club side at Anfield as Real Madrid flexed their might like a body builder basking in the Muscle beach sunshine.

But no-one else in the Liverpool squad can boast such a vast experience of this competition as Liverpool’s leader, so Gerrard’s presence in the team felt like a given with the ragged Reds looking to avoid Madrid meltdown.

Liverpool are only given an 11/2 chance of nicking a point in the Spanish capital, so whichever team he picks, Brendan Rodgers may wish to go with safety first.

We’ve donned the clipboard and given it a go ourselves:

Liverpool-4-11-14

Liverpool will do well to revert to a 4-5-1 in defence breaking into a 4-3-3 in attack. In Gerrard’s absence, Lucas is the natural replacement to play as one of two holding midfielders.

Often shunned this season, the Brazilian has actually appeared in four of his side’s six victories this season, starting two of them, and Lucas has exactly the right temperament and skillset to marshall this shaky defence.

Alongside Lucas, it’s time Emre Can stepped up to the plate following his move from Bayer Leverkusen and after being left on the bench at Newcastle, he’ll be fresher than Joe Allen.

Jordan Henderson completes the midfield three and the Reds vice captain needs to improve dramatically on his Anfield showing where he strangely went missing.

On the right flank Adam Lallana is given the slot after being rested at St James’ Park and having impressed from the bench at Anfield, while creative spark Philippe Coutinho starts off the left.

Up front Raheem Sterling is given the ghost number nine role ahead of Mario Balotelli, as the Italian’s suspect workrate cannot be carried in the Bernabeu.

Hard-working Javier Manquillo gets the right-back berth and in Jose Enrique’s absence through injury Alberto Moreno gets a chance to make up for his horrendous match-losing mistake at Newcastle.

Simon Mignolet, Martin Skrtel and Dejan Lovren complete a vulnerable-looking backline but the options aren’t great despite the money spent.

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Christian Crowther

Give Christian a sport with anything remotely spherical in it and he’ll happily while away the hours watching it on the box. However, he’d much prefer writing about, playing or betting on golf, football, cricket, tennis, snooker.... you get the picture.