Liverpool v Real Madrid: Drop Mario Balotelli, says Jamie Carragher

'They can't have any passengers' says former Reds defender

Jamie Carragher says Liverpool must leave out Mario Balotelli to have the best chance of beating Real Madrid.

The former Reds defender has urged Brendan Rodgers to drop the striker, who has scored only once in nine appearances since his £16million summer move from AC Milan, and play Raheem Sterling further forward.

Liverpool are third in Group B after losing to Basel three weeks ago and Carragher believes they need a result in front of a sold-out Anfield on Wednesday night if they are to get through to the last 16.

Jamie's starting XI

  • Mignolet
  • Johnson
  • Moreno
  • Skrtel
  • Lovren
  • Gerrard
  • Lallana
  • Allen
  • Henderson
  • Coutinho
  • Sterling

And he says that could mean giving the ineffectual Balotelli the chop.

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“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 at 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 wants to see Philippe Coutinho brought in to the team to offer width on the right wing with Adam Lallana supporting Sterling from the left.

And he says it’s important to have an energetic front line to build on the electric atmosphere that the home fans are likely to generate.

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“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.”

Jamie Carragher will be part of the Sky Sports team at Anfield on Wednesday night for Liverpool v Real Madrid from 6pm on Sky Sports 5.

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