Origi & Shaqiri to enter patched-up attack? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Barcelona

6 May 2019

Injuries to three key players have left Jurgen Klopp facing a difficult task to patch up his starting XI for Liverpool’s Champions League second leg with Barcelona.


The biggest of uphill tasks faces the Reds, but it has been made even harder with Liverpool having now lost three key players to terribly timed injuries.

Mohamed Salah has joined Roberto Firmino and Naby Keita on the sidelines, leaving Klopp with a huge challenge to keep the Reds competitive and faint hopes of a comeback alive.

So how could Klopp reshuffle his team and how could Liverpool’s starting XI look?

 

The Squad & Enforced Changes

Speaking in his pre-match press conference, Klopp confirmed that Salah is ruled out after suffering concussion in the Newcastle win.

The Egyptian—who should be fit for Sunday’s final-day showdown—joins Firmino in being unavailable, depriving the Reds of a full-power attack.

More concerning news is that Virgil van Dijk and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain missed Liverpool’s main training session on Monday.

This was reportedly due to both taking up extra recovery sessions so they could yet be available.

Further absentees come with Keita (adductor injury) and Adam Lallana (muscle issue).

It leaves Klopp facing a very interesting reshuffle—especially in attack—as he looks to keep his side competitive.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, May 6, 2019: Liverpool players walk out for a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Xherdan Shaqiri and Divock Origi will both come into contention after their game-winning impact at Newcastle.

Daniel Sturridge played the full 90 minutes at St James’ Park and could retain his starting place, while Rhian Brewster is a left-field option.

Attacking options are thin but there is room for rotation in midfield and defence.

James Milner will be in contention to enter midfield, with Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum all available.

Joel Matip could return to the back four in place of Dejan Lovren, who struggled at Newcastle, while Joe Gomez will be considered.

Liverpool Squad Training on Monday

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Monday, May 6, 2019: Liverpool's Rhian Brewster (L) and Daniel Sturridge during a training session at Melwood Training Ground ahead of the UEFA Champions League Semi-Final 2nd Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Barcelona. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Mignolet, Kelleher

Defenders: Matip, Lovren, Gomez, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson

Midfielders: Fabinho, Henderson, Wijnaldum, Milner

Forwards: Mane, Origi, Sturridge, Shaqiri, Brewster

Training separately: Van Dijk, Lallana, Oxlade-Chamberlain

 

The Potential Lineups

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Tuesday, April 9, 2019: Liverpool's Dejan Lovren during the pre-match warm-up before the UEFA Champions League Quarter-Final 1st Leg match between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

It’s hugely disappointing that key injuries have struck and will deprive Klopp of his strongest lineup to dampen hopes of a turnaround.

Klopp won’t throw in the towel and should name his strongest possible patched-up XI in search of a miracle—unless, perhaps, Leicester do the Reds a huge favour at the Etihad on Monday night.

Quite how Klopp will reshape his forward line after the monumental losses of Firmino and Salah is the big question.

One possibility is that Shaqiri and Origi slot into the traditional three-man attack—with a second start in four days perhaps a step too far for Sturridge.

The Swiss international would play on the right, Origi the left with Mane operating as Liverpool’s central focal point.

As the intense games continue to come thick and fast, further changes could be made to give the Reds full energy on the night.

Milner seems likely to enter midfield, perhaps joining Fabinho and Henderson, and we should see Matip return to partner Van Dijk, assuming the Dutchman will be fit to feature.

Alisson; Trent, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Milner; Shaqiri, Origi, Mane


With injuries continuing to pile up and the Reds already facing a monumental task, a more rotational side could feature to concentrate on one final push for the title.

Such is the deficit, this second leg is effectively a free hit for Klopp’s side, and this could be reflected in an experimental selection.

Considering the options available and with nothing to lose, Klopp could switch to an attack-minded 4-2-3-1.

This system would ensure four attackers can provide threat when breaking forward, while also adding extra security with Liverpool able to slot into a 4-5-1 in defending.

The attacking midfield unit would see Shaqiri and Origi on the flanks—and Klopp could deploy Wijnaldum in what used to be his main role as a No. 10 behind Mane.

Fabinho and Henderson could form the double pivot to protect a defence which could see Lovren join Matip at centre-back if Van Dijk misses out.

Perhaps even Brewster could come in for a dream debut if Klopp has fixed his priorities on the league?

Alisson; Trent, Matip, Lovren, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho; Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Origi; Mane


Liverpool won’t boast quite the same fear-factor but both lineups would ensure the Reds have pace, directness and energy to at least cause Barcelona problems.

That is all Klopp’s side can try to do from here, and you can bet the Reds will give everything to try and pull off the miracle needed.

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