Milner back in & time to start Minamino? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Midtjylland

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Liverpool face Midtjylland in the Champions League on Tuesday night and Jurgen Klopp will look to use his squad as the games keep coming quickly.

The Reds are likely to make a couple of changes at least, as the boss balances out rotation and freshness with keeping a cohesive side playing well and getting the three points we need.

Another narrow win at the weekend saw the Reds come from behind to beat Sheffield United 2-1, with the team overcoming a couple more VAR calls which went the way of the opposition: a penalty awarded to the Blades and a Salah strike ruled out.

Goals from Bobby Firmino and Diogo Jota secured the win nonetheless, and a second group stage victory on Tuesday night would put the Reds well on the path toward the knockout phases already.

With just three days between the last game and this, the manager will likely make a couple of alterations to his lineup.

Although respect will be paid to the Danish side and it’ll be a competitive team, playing at home to the team from Pot Four has to realistically be seen as the Reds’ chance to rotate.

So who could come into the team for the Anfield clash?

 

Team News

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, October 17, 2020: Liverpool’s Joel Matip during the FA Premier League match between Everton FC and Liverpool FC, the 237th Merseyside Derby, at Goodison Park. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. The game ended in a 2-2 draw. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

There are limited changes available at the back, with the news that Joel Matip is not likely to be fit.

He hasn’t played since the derby, the game Virgil van Dijk got injured in, which means it’ll be Joe Gomez and Fabinho in partnership once more – with Alisson behind them after his own return from injury.

Naby Keita and Thiago will also be missing from the midfield line again, as the boss told reporters.

“I don’t think [they will be ready]. It looks like they need a few more days,” he said.

The hope is that Thiago will return for the weekend, but here we’ll have to do without him – as well as long-term absentee Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

There’s no Kostas Tsimikas either, so if changes come, it’ll be in central midfield or attack, more than likely.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. FC Midtjylland

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Thursday, October 1, 2020: Liverpool's captain James Milner drinks water from a plastic bottle during the Football League Cup 4th Round match between Liverpool FC and Arsenal FC at Anfield. Arsenal won 5-4 on penalties after a goal-less draw. (Pic by Propaganda)

Assuming there’s no sudden injuries to the full-backs, we can likely expect Trent and Robertson to feature as usual – they could be options to replace later on if things go well, rather than switch out from the start.

But in midfield there could be a decision over the captain to make.

A week ago against Ajax, Jordan Henderson wasn’t capable of playing 90 minutes according to the club’s medical staff, and they might well intervene again to stop him building a big workload too quickly.

If so, James Milner could return to the lineup as he did against Ajax, ensuring Klopp keeps one of his captains on the pitch.

The partnership options for him are running low, so Gini Wijnaldum could keep his place.

Further upfield the boss might see this as a game for experimentation or changes.

Diogo Jota scored the winner against the Blades and might earn a second start, while Xherdan Shaqiri coming in too would suit the 4-2-3-1 system and give a regular starter a rest – perhaps Sadio Mane, in this case.

Alisson; Trent, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Milner; Shaqiri, Firmino, Jota; Salah


If Klopp really wants to take a rare chance to rotate heavily, however, he could look to bring one or two more out of the lineup who play almost every game.

Given the options available, Bobby Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold would be the biggest candidates to be rested.

Neco Williams could come in at right-back, while Takumi Minamino has been described as “really close” to getting in the team by Klopp a number of times – this could be his deserved opportunity to make his mark in a meaningful game.

If Henderson is fit to start and play an hour or more he might be kept in place too, though Curtis Jones will hope to get a second nod in Europe after being subbed at half-time in Amsterdam.

He could feature if we revert to 4-3-3, or from the left or No. 10 in a 4-2-3-1 – and all that versatility off the bench could come in handy later on, too.

Alisson; N.Williams, Fabinho, Gomez, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Henderson; Jota, Minamino, Mane; Salah


Midtjylland might be the weakest side in the group, but Klopp acknowledged in his press conference that they have earned the right to be here and gave Atalanta a run for their money last week, despite the eventual 4-0 scoreline.

Whoever starts for the Reds, the demands will be familiar ones: intensity, running power, smart work on the ball and a clinical edge.

With a few players hoping to earn a more regular place in the lineup, changes here should hopefully yield a good performance and positive result for the Reds.

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