Coutinho to start as Klopp waits on Salah – Liverpool’s lineup options vs. Sevilla

12 September 2017
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Jurgen Klopp seems set to hand Philippe Coutinho his first start of the season in Liverpool’s Champions League opener with Sevilla.


Champions League football officially returns to Anfield on Wednesday night as Sevilla arrive for the much-anticipated group stage opener.

The Reds arrive not exactly in ideal shape after Saturday’s disaster at Man City, and Eduardo Berizzo’s side present the toughest opponent to kick-off the European campaign against.

Klopp’s men have the perfect occasion to bounce back however, and can do so by instantly stamping authority on Group E to show the five time winners are not here to just enjoy the experience.

Indeed, Liverpool will be desperate to open with a win at Anfield, where Klopp could make numerous changes – including handing a first start of the season to Coutinho.

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LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 12, 2017: Liverpool's manager Jürgen Klopp during a press conference at Anfield ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match against Sevilla FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

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Liverpool’s XI vs. Sevilla

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, September 12, 2017: Liverpool's Roberto Firmino, Philippe Coutinho Correia and Sadio Mane during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Group E match against Sevilla FC. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

With Klopp having confirmed Coutinho’s readiness, all attention will centre on whether the Brazilian starts or is named on the bench.

Though keeping his cards close to his chest, Klopp will be tempted to utilise Coutinho’s game-changing talents from the off, and he has every reason to – especially if Salah fails to recover.

Salah’s withdrawal would allow Mane to switch to the right and free Coutinho to resume his favourite role to the left of Roberto Firmino – thus reassembling the lethal trio that fired the Reds back to the top stage.

The Brazil international’s entrance could come as one of numerous changes in all departments, with Klopp certain to shuffle his pack given how poor the Reds were collectively at City.

Defence is where the majority are likely to materialise, and as many as three switches could be made.

Klopp has confirmed Karius will replace Simon Mignolet in one, and another will surely see Lovren replace Klavan.

Meanwhile the third could come at right-back where Gomez could replace Alexander-Arnold – who struggled at City – to provide increased defensive stability.

Klopp assessed his midfield was just as culpable as the defence for Saturday’s capitulation, and this suggests the boss could also alter his engine room.

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Here Oxlade-Chamberlain could enjoy his first experience of Anfield as a home player – likely in place of Gini Wijnaldum after his ineffective display at the Etihad Stadium.

This would be the XI to lead the Reds back into the Champions League:

Klopp said we would all have to wait to see if Coutinho starts at Anfield, but there’s a growing feeling the Brazilian will be on the team-sheet, with it more a case of where he enters.

If Salah overcomes illness to feature as Klopp expects, the Egyptian is likely to continue on the right side of what would be an unchanged front three.

Therefore, Coutinho could feature in the deeper midfield role initially expected he would play this season, with Wijnaldum again making way for the reintegrated No.10 to join Jordan Henderson and Emre Can.

And in defence, Alexander-Arnold could be handed the chance to put Saturday’s blip behind him, but Karius and Lovren will still enter for two defensive changes.

Those fewer adjustments would see Liverpool lineup like this come 7:45pm kick-off time at Anfield:

Anfield’s first proper Champions League night in almost three years is finally upon us, and Klopp’s side must rise to the occasion to get the group stage off to a winning start.

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