Milner or Henderson back in midfield? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Bayern Munich

12 March 2019

Jurgen Klopp is unlikely to make many changes to his side for Liverpool’s Champions League decider at Bayern Munich, but there are options in midfield.


The Reds face a tough task as they head to the Allianz Arena, but are safe in the knowledge that the away goals rule can work in their favour.

Having played out a 0-0 draw at Anfield, despite the absence of Virgil van Dijk through suspension, Liverpool can now progress to the quarter-finals with as little as a score draw.

They head to Munich buoyed by an excellent 4-2 win over Burnley at the weekend, and will look to keep the winning run going after a difficult spell.

Bayern are facing key absences for the tie, with Joshua Kimmich and Thomas Muller suspended and Arjen Robben injured, while the condition of Klopp’s squad is improving by the day.

So how could Liverpool line up to secure their place in the quarter-finals?

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 12, 2019: Liverpool's Sadio Mane during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between FC Bayern München and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Klopp oversaw training at Melwood on Tuesday afternoon with a 24-man squad, with three players then cut from the group to travel to Munich.

The big boost came with Trent Alexander-Arnold available after a back problem, while James Milner and Alberto Moreno were both involved too after missing previous sessions.

Rhian Brewster also continued his comeback from long-term injuries, but he, Rafa Camacho and Ben Woodburn didn’t make the plane.

But Nat Phillips is included having come through 45 minutes on his return for the Liverpool U23s at Derby on Friday.

However, there has been another setback for Naby Keita, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was also not part of the squad having been brought off 40 minutes into the U23s’ win last week.

There are no other concerns for the manager, however, with Dejan Lovren fit again after a hamstring injury.

Joe Gomez remains absent, with his rehabilitation set to continue until after the international break.

Liverpool’s Travelling Squad for Bayern Munich

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 12, 2019: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between FC Bayern München and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Mignolet, Kelleher

Defenders: Van Dijk, Matip, Lovren, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Moreno, Phillips

Midfielders: Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson, Milner, Lallana

Forwards: Salah, Mane, Firmino, Shaqiri, Sturridge, Origi

 

The Potential Lineups

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, March 12, 2019: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 1st Leg match between FC Bayern München and Liverpool FC. (Pic by Laura Malkin/Propaganda)

Unless Alexander-Arnold suffers any further effects from his back injury, there are few question marks over Klopp’s selection both in defence and attack.

With Lovren only just back from a long spell out, and none of Xherdan Shaqiri, Daniel Sturridge and Divock Origi likely to start in attack, those lining up at either end of the pitch are easy to predict.

Alisson will start in goal, behind a back four of Alexander-Arnold, Joel Matip, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson, and with the 4-3-3 seemingly here to stay, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane should flank Roberto Firmino in the forward line.

In midfield, however, there is a likelihood the manager will change things up.

Adam Lallana was a surprise starter against Burnley, and impressed in a 77-minute outing, but while there could be a temptation to retain the No. 20 that is not to be expected.

Instead, Milner may be considered to take his countryman’s place alongside Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum to reprise the midfield that fuelled the 5-0 win over Watford last month:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Mane, Firmino


Given Fabinho‘s importance to the side, and Wijnaldum’s rest-stop substitution after 68 minutes on Sunday, Liverpool’s two most reliable midfielders should not drop out.

And if the back line and attacking trio remain the same, the player who could come in instead of Milner is Jordan Henderson, who replaced Wijnaldum against the Clarets.

Fabinho, Henderson and Wijnaldum were Klopp’s preferred midfield unit in tricky games against both Man United and Everton recently, and while it may not be well received by supporters, it could well be in his thinking again for Bayern.

With the Reds needing to hold firm and damage Niko Kovac’s side on the counter-attack, Klopp fielding all three of his No. 6s is a big possibility:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Mane, Firmino


The conservatism of both of these XIs may not be to every fan’s taste, but they are in keeping with Klopp’s approach this season.

With Mane and Firmino shining with braces against Burnley just three days previous, and Salah no doubt desperate to break his run of five games without a goal, the hope will be there is enough firepower to beat Manuel Neuer.

For Klopp, it is likely to be about finding the right balance, with progress to the quarter-finals keeping momentum going in an excellent campaign.

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