Big guns back, Oxlade-Chamberlain or Wijnaldum to start? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup for first leg vs. Roma

23 April 2018

Liverpool’s lineup for the Champions League semi-final first leg with Roma practically picks itself, but Jurgen Klopp faces a key decision in midfield.


The moment has finally arrived.

The build-up is done, anticipation is at boiling point and the Reds now begin the final push to earn a shot at winning European Cup No.6.

The tie reignites a historic rivalry with Roma, who the Reds famously defeated in Rome to win No.4 back in 1984, and the Italians will see this as a chance to finally take long-awaited revenge.

But this is undoubtedly a winnable tie for the Reds and after making changes at West Brom, Klopp will restore his big guns to take the game to Eusebio Di Francesco’s men.

Those changes at the Hawthorns gave big clues as to what the lineup will be on Tuesday, so here is how Liverpool are likely to start.

 

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Liverpool’s XI vs. Roma

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, April 4, 2018: Liverpool's players line-up for a team group photograph before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and Manchester City FC at Anfield. Back row L-R: goalkeeper Loris Karius, Roberto Firmino, Dejan Lovren, Virgil van Dijk, Mohamed Salah. Front row L-R: Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Trent Alexander-Arnold, James Milner, captain Jordan Henderson, Andy Robertson, Sadio Mane. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Klopp’s selection at West Brom near enough confirmed the starting XI for the first leg, with those rotated nailed on to come back in.

We will certainly see Alexander-Arnold, Robertson and Lovren all return to defence, with Virgil van Dijk the only survivor from Saturday’s draw with the Baggies.

You can also say with 100 per cent certainty that Firmino will be back in the front three along with Sadio Mane and Mo Salah, who will be looking to grab his 42nd goal of the season against his former club.

And after being rested on Saturday Oxlade-Chamberlain seems likely to enter midfield, but this leaves an interesting decision for Klopp in how to reshape the vital central unit.

The boss will know the Reds need another dominant first leg performance to ensure there’s an advantage to take to Italy.

So this could persuade Klopp to go with the same high-energy, aggressive midfield that dominated Man City in the Anfield quarter-final.

This would see the all English trio of Henderson, Milner and Oxlade-Chamberlain start in an attempt to overpower the visitors, with Gini Wijnaldum on the bench.

With no viable or logical alternative defensive and attacking selections, it is only midfield where Klopp faces a genuinely tough decision.

And rather than mirroring his approach against City, the boss could take a different route by fielding a more solid, controlling midfield featuring Wijnaldum.

Klopp could favour the Dutchman’s composure and a calming influence, while holding Oxlade-Chamberlain’s attacking drive and power in reserve to be introduced when Roma tire.

A more conservative, but just as capable, Reds lineup could look like this:

Regardless of how Klopp shapes his midfield, both selections are extremely strong and capable of earning the vital first-leg lead needed to take to the Italian capital.

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