Raphael Varane joins Sergio Ramos on sidelines as Real Madrid and Liverpool are left without first choice defence with Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez also missing for Champions League fixture

Real Madrid and Liverpool’s attacking players will be licking their lips ahead of their Champions League tie tonight, LIVE on talkSPORT.

That’s because both sides will field a somewhat depleted line-up at centre-back as they’re both missing their two players in that position.

Raphael Varane is a late withdrawl from the first leg of the quarter-final tie between Real Madrid and Liverpool
Getty Images – Getty

Liverpool have been without Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez since October and November respectively and it’s expected their knee injuries won’t see them return until next season.

Joel Matip, who’s often selected to play alongside Van Dijk, has been out of action since January and won’t feature for the rest of the season due to an ankle ligament complaint.

Finding bodies to fill in at centre-back has been the story of Liverpool’s season and it’s expected Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips will play alongside each other for the first leg.

The pair have four clean sheets in four starts together, and boast a 100 per cent win rate.

Phillips and Kabak – the centre-back duo Liverpool did not know they needed
Van Dijk has returned to light training, but will not be back in time to try and stop Karim Benzema
Getty Images – Getty

But Real’s setbacks in that position have been more recent with Raphael Varane joining Sergio Ramos on the sidelines after testing positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.

The 27-year-old, a World Cup winner with France in 2018, was set to start the quarter-final first leg in Spain but he’s no longer at manager Zinedine Zidane’s disposal.

In between both legs, Real Madrid have an El Clasico date with Barcelona on Saturday and it’s understood Varane was rested by Zidane last weekend with the matches against Liverpool and LaLiga clash in mind.

Varane could be available for the second leg at Anfield next Wednesday, however, Real will be without captain Sergio Ramos for both legs.

Varane is out of the first leg with COVID
While Ramos is out of both legs with a muscular injury in his left leg

Ramos is not a popular figure among Liverpool fans, who harbour resentment towards him for his clash with Mohamed Salah that led to the Egyptian’s premature exit from the 2018 Champions League final.

Jurgen Klopp revealed he is unable to summon the same ‘anger’ he felt at Liverpool’s Champions League final defeat three years ago as he rejected suggestions his side are on a revenge mission against Real Madrid.

But the Liverpool boss did admit that he didn’t like what he saw that night in Kiev.

“My motivation is at the highest level because it’s the Champions League, we want to go into the next round, we play Real Madrid,” Klopp told the media.

“This has nothing to do with 2018 but when I got the draw – because it’s the first time we played Real Madrid since then, of course I remembered the game.

“I said after that game that if somebody asked me a week later or a month later if I would invite Sergio Ramos to my 60th birthday, then I would say no! I would think about it again.

“He’s a great footballer but I didn’t like what happened that night. It was a strange night for us but it’s long ago and I cannot get that feeling back, that anger or whatever, so I don’t even try.

“We are not on a revenge tour here. I don’t believe too much in revenge, but it would be nice to get through, because it would mean we are in the next round.”

Source: Sport

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