Three midweek changes to be reversed? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Cardiff

20 April 2019

Jurgen Klopp’s team selection for Liverpool’s clash with Cardiff on Sunday seems a straightforward pick with three changes likely to be made.


With a Champions League semi-final place in the bag, it’s back to the title run-in for the Reds with another must-win clash against Cardiff.

Klopp conducted some light rotation in the clinical midweek rout of Porto to keep things fresh, making changes in midfield and attack.

The German will surely take the same approach again on Sunday, making minor adjustments in the same areas to keep his side energised to hit top form again.

So what changes could be made and how will Liverpool’s starting XI look?

 

The Squad Available & Likely Changes

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp confirmed Dejan Lovren is available after recovering from illness.

The Croatian’s return means Klopp has a near-full squad at his disposal, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Rhian Brewster the only absentees.

Adam Lallana could return to the matchday fold after four games out, having been fit enough to travel to Porto.

Klopp is likely to make minor adjustments and has options available in all departments.

Roberto Firmino should be restored to the lead the line after playing only the second half in Porto, which will see Divock Origi drop out.

Jordan Henderson and Naby Keita dropped to the bench in Portugal, but that could mean both will be reintroduced to the lineup.

James Milner and Gini Wijnaldum came into the team on Wednesday night and will each hope to keep their midfield spots.

There are further options for changes in all departments with Joe Gomez, Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge available.

This is no time for experimentation though, so expect Klopp to stick with what is working.

 

The Potential Lineups

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 1, 2018: Liverpool's captain Jordan Henderson during the FA Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Henderson, Keita and Firmino dropped out of the starting XI in Porto, as Klopp took the chance to hand rests to three key players.

This suggests that we will see the trio recalled to the lineup on Sunday afternoon.

Klopp could simply reverse the changes made in midweek – restoring those three Reds at the expense of the men who replaced them.

That would mean Milner and Wijnaldum make way from midfield, as Henderson and Keita rejoin certain starter Fabinho.

In attack, Firmino would replace Origi to re-form Liverpool’s traditional front line.

Sadio Mane would move back to the left to accommodate the Brazilian’s reintroduction centrally, with Mohamed Salah on the right.

Nothing else should be touched as the Reds go in search of another crucial win.

Changes are certain to be made in midfield, with this very much the main area that Klopp conducts his game-to-game rotation.

But we could see different personnel make way.

Milner seems most likely to drop out, but it may be Fabinho who is withdrawn with the vice-captain after four successive 90-minute outings, all in high-intensity games.

Keita and Henderson would still come in, though the captain would do so returning to the No.6 role.

Meanwhile, Klopp could also take the chance to hand one of his near-ever-present full-backs a break to remain fresh for the run-in.

Trent Alexander-Arnold would be the main contender after starting all of the last 10 games, and given Andy Robertson recently sat out the Porto first-leg win.

Gomez came through a half-hour outing in Portugal on return to first-team action, so Sunday’s game could be ideal to hand him a start to get fully up to speed for the run-in.

Klopp has several high-quality lineups to choose from, but the first selection seems the most likely team given it is currently the Reds’ best performing XI.

Sunday’s game now looks a tougher assignment than it did, but Liverpool simply must come through it with three points if the title is to arrive at Anfield in May.

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