Varane out for Real Madrid v. Liverpool

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Raphane Varane has been ruled out of the first leg of Real Madrid – Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League quarterfinal, as the French star has tested positive for coronavirus.

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Varane, 27, will sit out the first leg in Madrid on Tuesday, and that means both of Real’s first-choice center backs will be missing as Sergio Ramos is out due to injury.

Jurgen Klopp knows all about missing center backs, and now Zinedine Zidane will feel that pain for a huge game.

Here is what Real Madrid said in an official statement, as this feels like a big boost for Liverpool ahead of the first leg.

“Real Madrid C. F. informs that our player Raphael Varane tested positive in the COVID-19 test he underwent this morning.”

How will Real Madrid line up without Varane and Ramos?

Eder Militao and Nacho will likely line up at center back, as they could go with a back three and tuck Ferland Mendy inside with Lucas Vazquez and Marcelo as wing backs. Dani Carvajal is also out, which is a blow too, and gives Real Madrid even less options in defense.

This is a huge concern as Varane and Ramos have been at the heart of the Real Madrid defense for most of the last decade and their experience would have been key in shutting down Diogo Jota, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane.

Real have been very good defensively this season under Zidane though (they’ve only conceded more than one goal in a game once in their last 19 La Liga outings) and the Real boss has been speaking about their strength being in their collective approach.

The experienced trio of Toni Kroos, Luka Modric and Casemiro have a huge job to do in central midfield as they will shield this makeshift back four or three, but we could the same for Liverpool. Ozan Kabak and Nat Phillips are expected to line up at center back with Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez out.

Expect one thing in this game: lots of goals. Now I’ve said that, a 0-0 is coming up…