Real Madrid handed double fitness boost for Liverpool clash

Real Madrid welcome Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy back into their squad for Wednesday’s Champions League clash with Liverpool.

Real Madrid have welcomed Karim Benzema and Ferland Mendy back into their squad for Wednesday’s Champions League last-16 second leg with Liverpool.

Los Blancos are in a strong position to reach the quarter-finals of the competition, having recorded a 5-2 victory over the Premier League giants in the first leg of their tie at Anfield.

Head coach Carlo Ancelotti has been able to recall both Benzema and Mendy to his squad, meaning that David Alaba is currently the team’s only senior absentee.

Benzema was not involved in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Espanyol in La Liga due to an ankle knock.

However, Ancelotti insisted on Friday that the Frenchman would be back against Liverpool, and the experienced forward has returned to the squad for Wednesday’s affair.

© Reuters

“Benzema is very excited and is in a great physical moment,” Real Madrid’s head coach told reporters during his pre-match press conference on Tuesday.

The 35-year-old has had his fitness issues this season but has still enjoyed a strong campaign, scoring 18 goals and registering five assists in 27 appearances in all competitions.

Mendy’s return is also a huge positive for Real Madrid, as the left-back has been on the sidelines since the end of January due to a hamstring problem.

The 27-year-old’s last appearance for Los Blancos was against Atletico Madrid in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey on January 26.

Real Madrid's Ferland Mendy pictured on September 3, 2022© Reuters

Alaba has been out since the first leg of the clash with Liverpool due to a hamstring problem, and it is unclear when the Austria international will be available for selection once again.

There is a spot in the squad for Alvaro Rodriguez, meanwhile, with the teenager recently scoring his first senior goal for the club against Atletico in the Madrid derby.

“I think we haven’t talked much about that. We did a lot of good things. We are not going to do calculations,” said Ancelotti when asked about how his side would approach the second leg due to their 5-2 lead.

“We are not going to propose a closed match but an open one, to play our best offensive football. And the players understand that. That’s why I think it’s going to be an open game.”

Real Madrid are the holders of the European Cup, beating Liverpool 1-0 in last season’s final, with Vinicius Junior netting the only goal of the contest in the 59th minute.

Real Madrid squad vs. Liverpool:

Courtois, Lunin, Lopez; Carvajal, Militao, Vallejo, Nacho, Odriozola, Vazquez, Rudiger, Mendy; Kroos, Modric, Camavinga, Valverde, Tchouameni, Ceballos; Hazard, Benzema, Asensio, Vinicius, Rodrygo, Mariano, Alvaro

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