Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher has suggested that Brendan Rodgers leave striker Mario Balotelli out of his starting eleven in order to give his side the best chance of beating Real Madrid on Wednesday.
Speaking on Sky Sports: Monday Night Football, Carragher urged the Liverpool boss to drop the Italian international from the lineup and moved Raheem Sterling further forward.
Balotelli has only scored once in nine appearances since his £16 million move from AC Milan this summer and the former Liverpool defender has not been impressed with the striker’s effort on the pitch to this point.
“He doesn’t run around enough,” Carragher explained on Monday Night Football.
“Against Real Madrid you’ve got to get that crowd going. You need to get back to Liverpool of last year and that pressing. There’s got to be an energy about Liverpool that we haven’t seen; we’ve seen it once this season against Spurs.”
“It’s going on too long now and we can’t keep waiting. It’s a huge game and Liverpool have to get something from it.”
“I would put Raheem Sterling in there because he can run in behind and Liverpool may have to counter-attack a lot of the game. Madrid may have a lot of the ball.”
“Sterling can also press from the front. He doesn’t have to play right up front and he can come back and help the midfield.”
“They can’t have any passengers against Real Madrid.”
Carragher went on to suggest that Philippe Coutinho should be brought into the team and played wide on the right, with Adam Lallana offering support from the left wing. He believes it’s important to have an energetic front line to build on the electric atmosphere that the Anfield supporters are likely to generate.
“The decision I would make would be to bring Coutinho in for Balotelli. I wouldn’t play Balotelli in this game.”
“I would play Raheem Sterling, whether you’d call it a centre-forward or a false nine. I think it’s important Liverpool have three players [in front of Gerrard] who work and get after Real Madrid and then Sterling, if he’s off the front, can run in behind people. I’d have Coutinho in a wide area.”
“I think they can [get something from the game], but it’s how Brendan Rodgers sets up.”
“You’ve got to get Anfield bouncing. There’s got to be an energy and intensity about Liverpool and enthusiasm.”
Liverpool currently sit third in Group B after losing to Basel three weeks ago and beating Ludogorets in their opening Champions League groups stage match.