Lallana to start for Champions League showdown – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Porto

5 March 2018

Despite suggesting otherwise, Jurgen Klopp is likely to rotate his lineup for Liverpool’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Porto.


The Reds will finally confirm status as a Champions League quarter-finalists on Tuesday night, providing a PSG-style collapse is avoided at Anfield.

Liverpool’s task is not just to finish the job but rather do so as stress-free as possible to allow for ideal preparation ahead of Saturday’s battle for second place at Old Trafford.

The near-unassailable lead the Reds boast gives Klopp every chance to rest certain key men ahead of the grudge match.

And the boss rightly seems set to take the opportunity with plenty of quality at his disposal to introduce.

 

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Liverpool’s XI vs. Porto

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, March 5, 2018: Liverpool's James Milner, Danny Ings and Adam Lallana during a training session at Melwoood ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 2nd leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Porto. (Pic by Paul Greenwood/Propaganda)

No matter how much Klopp insists the job is not yet done, deploying a full-strength team on Tuesday is needless.

And despite understandably having consistently played down suggestions of rotating, panicking supporters somewhat, the boss will know that more than anyone.

Klopp has often disguised rotation under the need to utilise his squad and freshest players.

And given he stated in his pre-match press conference that “it’s about bringing in fit players” a similar scenario could play out again at Anfield.

In fact with Klopp having also said “we may make one, two or three changes,” the question becomes one of how many switches rather than if any arrive.

Klopp has the options to consider light and heavy rotation depending on how many key men he wants preserved for Saturday, and most Kopites will hope for the latter with a quarter-final place all but officially confirmed.

Such a selection could see a completely new back four deployed, with Gomez, Matip, Klavan and Moreno protecting in-form Loris Karius.

A solitary switch could come in midfield, where Milner could team up with Jordan Henderson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to allow Emre Can a night off.

And an unfamiliar but interesting attack could see Lallana and Solanke—for his first-ever Champions League start—join Mane to allow deadly duo Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino a chance to recharge.

Giving plenty of fringe players a chance to impress to keep the squad competitive, a Reds team with seven changes could look like this:

Klopp may opt for fewer changes to avoid any complications on what should be a simple night and to maintain the winning momentum established from four straight wins.

Instead of a whole new back four, changes could only come at full-back with Gomez and Moreno flanking Dejan Lovren and Virgil van Dijk, whose leadership will help ease the full-back’s returns.

Milner would still enter midfield but the vice-captain could replace Henderson, with Klopp having often tried to guard against the skipper’s fitness issues.

And one change instead of two could come in attack, where Lallana could join Mane and Firmino in order to keep Salah’s legs as fresh as possible for United’s back line.

The Reds have all but sealed their last-eight spot but a professional display is needed to secure that place and, most importantly, set us up perfectly for Saturday’s crucial showdown.

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