Football: Gerrard, Balotelli dropped for Liverpool match against Real Madrid

Liverpool's Mario Balotelli watches play as manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, on Oct 25, 2014. Rodgers dropped a host of first-team
Liverpool's Mario Balotelli watches play as manager Brendan Rodgers gives instructions during their English Premier League soccer match against Hull City at Anfield in Liverpool, northern England, on Oct 25, 2014. Rodgers dropped a host of first-team regulars, including out-of-form striker Balotelli and captain Steven Gerrard, for his side's daunting Champions League match with European Champions Real Madrid on Tuesday. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID (AFP) - Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers dropped a host of first-team regulars, including captain Steven Gerrard and out-of-form striker Mario Balotelli for his side's daunting Champions League match with European Champions Real Madrid on Tuesday.

Rodgers has made seven changes in all from the side that lost 1-0 to Newcastle United on Saturday with English international duo Raheem Sterling and Jordan Henderson also dropping to the bench with one eye on their upcoming clash at home to Premier League leaders Chelsea on Saturday.

Liverpool are locked in a three-way tie for second place in Group B along with Swiss champions Basel and Champions League debutants Ludogorets Razgrad, whilst Madrid can seal their place in the last 16 with a fourth straight win.

Welsh winger Gareth Bale is fit again, but is only named amongst the Madrid substitutes as Carlo Ancelotti made just two changes from the side that beat Granada 4-0 at the weekend with former Liverpool defender Alvaro Arbeloa and Rafael Varane replacing the injured Dani Carvajal and Pepe.