VILLARREAL VS LIVERPOOL: PREDICTED LINEUP
Liverpool travel to Estadio de la Ceramica tonight to take on Villarreal for the second leg of their Champions League semi final tie. The Reds hold a 2-0 first leg lead and will want to finish the job without giving the hosts any encouragement. Here’s the predicted team for the game.
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It is almost a fully fit squad available to the manager, with only Roberto Firmino absent. It is testament to the work the medical and sports science department have done this season. It is such a boost to have almost every player available when it matters most.
Jürgen Klopp made five changes to his side at the weekend due to the tight turnaround. That’s another factor that’s helped keep every player fit and fresh for the run in. The gaffer has managed the workload for each player throughout the season.
He will revert back to a stronger side tonight as the Reds look to seal their place in a fourth European final under his tenure. In goal will be Alisson Becker. The Brazilian was underemployed in the first leg but is certain to have more to do tonight.
Ahead of him, Alexander-Arnold will return after a well earned rest, with Gomez stepping in brilliantly for him at Newcastle. You’d expect Konaté to also come back in for Matip at centre back. With Spurs awaiting on Saturday, the manager will have a decision to make.
With Son’s pace on the counter, would it be better to use Konaté on Saturday? If so, then Matip will start tonight. Or will the manager want Matip’s experience against Harry Kane? In that case, Konaté will get the nod tonight. It is a little puzzle the manager will ponder over.
Virgil is a constant at the back and will have to once again lead the backline. The way the offside trap was set at Newcastle and indeed throughout the whole season has been a joy to watch. At left back, Tsimikas will surely come in for Robertson who completed each of the last three games across the space of six days.
Tonight could be the Scotsman’s turn for a breather, with the in form Kulusevski to deal with on Saturday. It is crazy to think the manager will have an eye on a league game when picking a side for a Champions League semi final but we are where we are. Tsimikas is an excellent backup and was named Man of the Match last time out.
In midfield, Fabinho and Thiago are expected to return to the starting XI after being limited to brief cameos at St. James’ Park. The duo have an outstanding record when starting together; with 25 wins from 28 games, the only defeat being the 1-0 loss at home to Inter Milan.
They will look to continue that impressive streak tonight. Alongside them in the engine room will be one of Henderson/Keita. The skipper was excellent in the holding role on Saturday, whilst Naby was the match winner in a battling performance on the right of midfield.
The skipper went off after almost 70 minutes but it was his 50th appearance of the season for the Reds. That’s more than any other player in England has managed. He could be limited to a cameo off the bench here as a result with Keita continuing in midfield.
With five substitutes being available, the manager will definitely use the opportunity to bring on fresh legs and keep the energy and intensity levels up in the second half, and who better to bring on than the skipper to hopefully help see out the game.
In attack, we will see Mohamed Salah also return after a rare breather. The newly named FWA Player of the Year has had a full schedule this season for club and country. Same goes for Sadio Mané who I expect to get a breather tonight.
Mo will line up on the right as usual, with Diogo Jota (central) and Luis Diaz (left wing) joining him in the front three. With Villarreal committing more bodies forward tonight, the trio should enjoy more space than they did in the first leg.
Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas, Fabinho, Keita, Thiago, Salah, Jota, Diaz.
Subs: Kelleher, Gomez, Matip, Robertson, Milner, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jones, Elliott, Mané, Origi, Minamino.
2 thoughts on “VILLARREAL VS LIVERPOOL: PREDICTED LINEUP”
It will be an interesting match up, perfect line-up to start the game, lots of spaces for our front three today, it’s left for our full backs and midfield not to slip to give them full confidence going forward.
All hands on deck for this one.
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They will make it tough, which should make it a good contest.