TEAM NEWS: Liverpool bench Gerrard, Balotelli & Sterling for Real Madrid clash

Brendan Rodgers has made five changes from the Reds side that lost to Newcastle on Saturday as he keeps one eye on Saturday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea

Steven Gerrard, Mario Balotelli and Raheem Sterling are all rested by Brendan Rodgers for Liverpool’s Champions League clash with Real Madrid.

Gerrard, who started on the bench the last time the Reds visited Santiago Bernabeu in 2009 with a hamstring problem, is again denied the chance to lead his team out in the Spanish capital.

Balotelli also loses his place after an underwhelming start to the season that has seen him open his Liverpool career with two goals in 13 games, as Rodgers rings the changes with one eye on Saturday’s Premier League clash with Chelsea.

Javi Manquillo, Kolo Toure, Lucas Leiva, Emre Can, Lazar Markovic and Fabio Borini are all handed rare starts in a makeshift Reds side.

For Madrid, Gareth Bale returns to the substitutes’ bench after missing his team’s victories over Liverpool at Anfield and Barcelona in the Clasico earlier this month with a buttock muscle injury.

Ronaldo is one goal away from equalling Raul’s record of 71 Champions League goals, while Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi is close behind on 69.

Real Madrid: Casillas; Arbeloa, Varane, Ramos, Marcelo; Kroos, Modric, James; Isco, Benzema, Ronaldo

Subs: Keylor Navas, Pepe, Bale, Hernandez, Nacho, Medran, Lucas Torro

Liverpool: Mignolet; Manquillo, Toure, Skrtel, Moreno; Lucas, Can, Allen; Lallana, Markovic, Borini

Subs: Jones, Johnson, Gerrard, Henderson, Coutinho, Sterling, Balotelli

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