Liverpool can become world champions on Saturday evening, as the Reds face Flamengo in the Club World Cup final.
Liverpool vs. Flamengo
Saturday, December 21, 2019 – 5.30pm (GMT)
Khalifa International Stadium
Club World Cup Final
Referee: Al Jassim Abdulrahman (QAT)
Jurgen Klopp‘s side sealed their place in the final after a dramatic 2-1 victory over Monterrey on Wednesday.
A makeshift Liverpool team put in a below-par performance in Doha, but Roberto Firmino‘s last-gasp winner got them over the finish line.
It kept the Reds on course to win the Club World Cup for the first time ever, which would be another proud moment in the club’s history.
Flamengo stand between Liverpool and world champion status and the Copa Libertadores winners will pose a threat at the Khalifa International Stadium.
The Brazilian side’s supporters still sing about beating the Reds 3-0 in the same game back in 1981, highlighting how much the fixture means to them.
Jorge Jesus’ side will be desperate to spring a surprise and deny Klopp’s men more glory, so the European champions will need to be switched on.
Liverpool are unquestionable favourites, as they look to cement their status as the most feared side in world football.
Gini Wijnaldum is also expected to miss out, despite a clearing session on Friday, but will hopefully be back for the crucial trip to Leicester on Boxing Day.
Virgil van Dijk should be back after missing the win over Monterrey through illness, having returned to full training.
It will be interesting to see how strong Klopp’s starting lineup is, considering the Leicester game is hovering on the horizon.
The Reds should be close to full strength, however, given what is on offer in Qatar.
Mane and Firmino were rested from the start on Wednesday—could Salah make way this time?
Flamengo have no new injury worries, following their victory against Al-Hilal.
Probable Liverpool XI: Alisson; Trent, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keita, Milner; Salah, Mane, Firmino
Flamengo will provide Liverpool with a stern test on Saturday, following one of the most memorable seasons in the club’s history.
They clinched Copa Libertadores glory last month, beating River Plate 2-1 in the South American equivalent of the Champions League final.
They trailed 1-0 in the dying minutes, only for two goals from Gabriel Barbosa to turn the match on its head in dramatic fashion.
This is their first appearance in the Club World Cup since its inception in 2000, but they have tasted success in the competition’s previous format.
As mentioned, they defeated Liverpool back when it was the Intercontinental Cup in 1981.
In Jesus, Flamengo have a hugely experienced, charismatic coach, with the 65-year-old managing the likes of Sporting CP, Benfica and Braga over the years.
Barbosa, otherwise known as Gabigol, acts as the biggest threat to the Reds’ chances, having scored 43 goals in 58 appearances in 2019.
Khalifa International Stadium
Travel Advice: The stadium is a short walk from Sports City station on the Doha Metro Gold Line.
Did You Know?
Despite their European pedigree throughout history, Liverpool have never won the Club World Cup or the Intercontinental Cup.
The 3-0 defeat to Flamengo in 1981 came as a surprise, and three years later, Independiente got the better of Joe Fagan’s side.
Then, in 2005, Rafa Benitez’s men lost 1-0 to Sao Paulo in a frustrating Club World Cup final in Yokohama, with Mineiro scoring the game’s only goal.
Let’s hope Liverpool put an end to this poor record this weekend.
Liverpool – Last five results (all competitions)
Flamengo – Last five results (all competitions)
Won 3-1 vs. Al-Hilal
Lost 4-0 vs. Santos
Won 6-1 vs. Avai
Won 3-1 vs. Palmeiras
Won 4-1 vs. Ceara
Speaking on Friday, Klopp stressed his desire to change perceptions of the Club World Cup in Europe, highlighting how Liverpool were given no advantage by their domestic fixture list:
“Flamengo got sent here from their continent, or their country, with a clear order to win it and to come back as heroes. We got told ‘stay at home and play the Carabao Cup’.
“So that’s a massive difference, we cannot change that.
“But we are here, and my team wants to win the competition, even when we know it’s very difficult because the other team is really, really good.
“That’s how it is with the big competitions.
“I think the view on it in Europe is completely different to the view in the rest of the world, but I would like to change that view a little bit in the moment.”
TV & Liveblog Info
Liverpool vs. Flamengo is live on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer from 5.15pm (GMT), with kickoff at 5.30pm.
Chris Williams is in charge of This Is Anfield’s matchday liveblog, keeping you up to date with all the action from 4.45pm.