Gakpo opens up on having to adapt at Liverpool after move
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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp has a major worry ahead of his side’s clash with Real Madrid on Tuesday as Trent Alexander-Arnold is just one yellow card away from a one-match suspension in the Champions League. The German boss has his strongest squad available for several weeks to take on Los Blancos, but will be worried about his right-back.
Alexander-Arnold is the only Reds or Real Madrid player to be in danger of picking up their third yellow card in the game since the Champions League group stages began. Per UEFA’s rules, any player that accumulates three bookings will face an automatic one-match suspension, with the tally wiped clear at the quarter-final stage.
As the full-back picked up yellows in both home wins against Napoli and Rangers, if he is booked by referee Istvan Kovacs then he will miss the return leg in the Spanish capital. Alexander-Arnold has been shown a yellow just three times in 22 Premier League appearances so far this campaign but is up against one of the toughest players in the world to mark in Vinicius Jr.
The England man did avoid a yellow in last season’s final against the Brazilian but will need to remain cautious as Alexander-Arnold’s deputy at right-back Calvin Ramsay is unavailable for both legs due to injury. The Scottish summer signing is set to miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery on his back.
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If Alexander-Arnold was to miss the return leg it would likely mean that James Milner is tasked with stopping Vinicius Jr, who already has four goals in the competition so far and would be a difficult prospect for the 37-year-old. Joe Gomez could move across from centre-back, but Klopp has often preferred Milner over Gomez in that role when Alexander-Arnold is absent.
Aside from Alexander-Arnold, Liverpool have six other players who have received one booking in the Champions League so far this season. Milner, Virgil van Dijk, Gomez, Darwin Nunez, Ibrahima Konate, Cody Gakpo and Joel Matip would miss a potential quarter-final should they be booked in both legs against Real Madrid and the Reds advance past the holders. Dani Carvajal, Eder Militao, Ferland Mendy, Lucas Vasquez and Toni Kroos each have one card to their name.
Former Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez noted that Madrid will attempt to take advantage of Alexander-Arnold defensively and try to get Vinicius Jr behind him, particularly more so as he is at risk of suspension.
“Madrid will try to take advantage of Vinicius’s speed behind Alexander-Arnold,” Benitez told Spanish outlet Marca. “We need to see if [Carlo] Ancelotti gives balance with [Federico] Valverde or [Dani] Ceballos.
“There are many conditioning factors due to injuries but, for me, the greatest danger for Madrid would be the counter, taking advantage of Vinicius’ speed.”
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