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Thiago to return & another chance for Kabak? – Predicting Liverpool’s lineup vs. Leipzig

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Liverpool could be looking to changes in the starting line-up once more, as they face the first leg of the Champions League last-16 against RB Leipzig on Tuesday.

The Reds looked in good form initially at the weekend, controlling the game against Leicester and taking the lead – but a late collapse only served to underline the issues facing Jurgen Klopp and Co. at present.

Another altered defensive line, another injury picked up by James Milner and another handful of individual errors conspired to see us land on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline, a third league defeat on the spin.

It’s high time the Reds bounced back with a big performance and the opportunity comes on Tuesday night in a match of very different scope.

The first leg is being played on neutral territory in Budapest and, by its nature, the scoreline on the night won’t be a definitive one.

That said, Liverpool need to build confidence in themselves as well as a platform for the second leg, as trophy hopes for the season now rest firmly with the Champions League and a return to being tough to beat in Europe.

 

Midfield options dwindle

We already knew we’d be without the usual defenders – but now the midfield choices are somewhat limited, too.

James Milner went off injured against the Foxes and wasn’t involved in training on Monday, while Naby Keita was involved but won’t figure against Leipzig.

Add in Henderson being in defence and Fabinho being out and there’s not too much to choose from in the centre of the park either.

Ben Davies presents another option at the back, though since he’s yet to even play in the Premier League it’s hard to envisage him starting in Europe.

The front three is likely to be called upon once more, though Divock Origi also returned to training after not featuring at the weekend.

 

Liverpool’s XI vs. Leipzig

There’s a fair chance that the team simply picks itself here, with the strongest-available starter all being in the team and the boss looking for quality to eventually tell.

That would see the Kabak-Henderson partnership continue at the back, while Thiago returns in midfield after appearing off the bench at the King Power Stadium.

Gini Wijnaldum continues as the deepest midfield man, with Curtis Jones starting again.

Possible XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Wijnaldum, Jones, Thiago; Salah, Firmino, Mane


The alternative is to see a slight change in shape to combat the fact the midfield battle is so important here.

Mane dropping into a four-man midfield could see Shaqiri play narrow from the opposite flank, leaving Mo Salah free to rampage centrally.

If there is to be a change at the back after a difficult debut for Kabak, Nat Phillips is in line to partner Henderson – which might be more appealing if the Reds knew that Alexander Sorloth was a definite starter for Leipzig.

Possible XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Henderson, Robertson; Shaqiri, Wijnaldum, Thiago, Mane; Salah, Firmino.

Regardless of the starters, a better 90-minute showing is required to ensure the Reds aren’t already out of the running before the second leg starts.

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