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Rival watch: Liverpool could be without key attacker vs Real Madrid in UCL clash

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Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Liverpool forward Luis Diaz is expected to miss as many as three months of action, meaning that the Colombian could miss his side’s UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first-leg tie against Real Madrid in February.

The 25-year-old suffered a fresh knee injury during a recent training session in Dubai and reporter Pipe Sierra has confirmed that the attacker is now heading for surgery to recover from the lateral collateral ligament injury in the knee.

As confirmed by Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, the former Porto attacker complained of knee pain once again after initially hurting his knee in early October. Once he undergoes surgery, Liverpool expect him to return in March.

Back in October, the initial issue was reported to be around his medial collateral ligament but fresh reports now reveal that he is suffering from a lateral collateral ligament instead. 

Meanwhile, Diaz is not the only attacker who is expected to miss the Real Madrid tie, with Liverpool also sweating over the fitness of Diogo Jota. The Portuguese travelled to Dubai with the rest of the squad but is not expected to return to action until February.

The news comes as a boost for Real Madrid as the absence of both Jota and Diaz could leave Liverpool with only Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Darwin Nunez in the attack.

If the issue actually persists till February – when Liverpool take on Real Madrid at Anfield – Klopp might as well keep Nunez on the left. Salah will continue at his usual position on the right while Firmino will lead from the centre.

And this gives Real Madrid an outright edge as Ancelotti would know exactly how Liverpool will take the field in the first leg without Jota and Diaz. Unless there is no contingency/short-term singing in January, Ancelotti will know how to deal with the Reds at least in February.

Diaz had been one of the few positives for Liverpool in what has been a mixed season so far. The 25-year-old Colombian forward had scored four goals and set up three more in 12 games in all competitions before succumbing to injury.

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Real Madrid News

Real Madrid convinced with 21-year-old loanee’s performances, will count on him next season

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Photo via Getty Images

Real Madrid are eager to enhance their options in central defense after deciding to not sign any defenders in the recent January transfer window.

Several players are on the club’s radar, with Lille’s promising center-back Leny Yoro most notably high on the club’s wishlist.

However, the Merengues are not turning a blind eye to their homegrown academy gems, as Rafa Marin is making a strong case for himself to join the first team dynamics next summer.

Rafa Marin strengthens his case

The 21-year-old is presently on loan at Alaves and is showcasing solid performances in the heart of defense, with Real Madrid reported to count on him next season.

Now, AS have reported that the reason for the club’s trust in Marin is his upsurge in performances at Alaves. And if Nacho Fernandez leaves, Marin will serve as the fourth central defender in the squad.

A testament to his worth to Alaves is the fact that Marin has not been benched since mid-November, demonstrating his importance in coach Luis Garcia Plaza’s defense.

With 2,282 total minutes played, he ranks as the fourth-highest on the team with the most minutes.

Against Atletico Madrid recently, Rafa Marin enjoyed a stellar outing. In addition to making 15 recoveries and 9 interceptions, he took part in 24 defensive actions. Along with winning two ground and four air duels, he only committed one foul.

A stellar performance vs Atletico. (Photo by CESAR MANSO/AFP via Getty Images)

An important summer for Marin

Not only is Rafa Marín returning to Real Madrid, but he is also going to represent Spain in the Olympics in Paris.

Marin was included in five of the six matches during the Euro Under-21 qualifiers because coach Santi Denia of Spain’s under-21 team greatly values his presence and height (1.91 meters).

Marin has a bright future ahead of him if all goes according to plan. His season with Alaves is sure to serve as a stepping stone for his integration into the Real Madrid first team.

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