The international break has caused havoc in the Liverpool ranks once again, after Dejan Lovren pulled out of the Croatia squad with an abdominal tear.
Their £20m summer signing is the second player this season to return from national service and be confined to the sick bay after the Reds lost Daniel Sturridge to a thigh injury picked up on England duty last month.
Lovren’s start to life at Anfield has been far from stellar, but his lay-off has left Brendan Rodgers with just two fit centre-halves to pick from.
Mamadou Sakho, like Sturridge, is suffering from a thigh complaint, leaving just Paul and Barry Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure available for selection.
The mental picture the partnership paints isn’t one of solidity and the thought of Toure in particular attempting to repel the fearsome Real Madrid frontline must have Liverpool fans’ stomachs turning.
However, things aren’t as drastic as they seem, so it may be worth having a flutter on the 4/1 about the Merseysiders keeping a clean sheet when Los Blancos are in town.
The pair are typically called upon in states of emergency and were required to team up 15 times in total last time around.
Of these 15 matches, Liverpool were bested just four times, with one of these losses carrying the mitigation that it occurred in the Capital One Cup.
The club find themselves on a seven-match undefeated streak with Skrtel and Toure keeping guard.
Two of Liverpool’s finest performances of last season – 4-0 versus Everton and 5-1 versus Arsenal – came with these two manning the rearguard.
However, the Toffees routing represented half the shut outs the pair recorded together, with Bournemouth the only other attack unable to sully the Reds’ laundry when their last-resort centre-back twosome was fielded.
Based on this form, it’s hard to see Real failing to score on their Anfield visit, but the 4/5 that says the hosts avoid defeat isn’t the worst bet ever mooted.