Former Liverpool manager Rafa Benitez has suggested that Thiago Alcantara could be the difference-maker for the club against Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Benitez says Thiago is a player who can dictate the tempo for Liverpool in the midfield area by finding the right pass and doing something different to other players.

Liverpool host Real Madrid at Anfield on Wednesday night as they attempt to overturn a 3-1 deficit to progress through to the semi-finals of the competition.

Speaking to The Telegraph, as transcribed by TeamTalk, Benitez offered his thought on Thiago’s importance ahead of the game. “He (Thiago) is a player who can dictate the tempo for Liverpool.

“He can find the right pass and has the quality to anticipate the movement of the strikers and do something a little different.

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Benitez names Thiago (pictured) as key man for Liverpool

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“It’s really important Liverpool start with intensity and start well but at the same time not to rush the match, not to panic if they don’t score early.

“Concentrate, keep the balance, have a clean sheet if possible and even if a first goal comes quite late they will still have time to score again with the quality of players they have.”

ANFIELD WATCH VERDICT 

Thiago was named on the bench in the first leg in Spain, with Naby Keita preferred ahead of him by Jurgen Klopp. However, Keita’s performance did not go to plan and Klopp opted to substitute him for Thiago in the first-half, which could suggest that Thiago is primed for a starting spot in the team in the second leg on Wednesday night at Anfield with Keita dropping out.

The Spanish international has started two games for Liverpool in the Champions League this season and produced superb performances in both. Thiago recorded WhoScored ratings of 7.57 and 7.61 in the two legs against RB Leipzig in the previous round, winning eight tackles and two interceptions along with three dribbles and a key pass in the two games.

This shows the level of quality Thiago is capable of providing at European level, which puts some further weight behind Benitez’s comments. It proves that Thiago is able to dictate games for Liverpool and he could use his ability to help Liverpool complete a comeback against Real if he is given the chance to start.

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