LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Wednesday, September 15, 2021: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah looks dejected during the UEFA Champions League Group B Matchday 1 game between Liverpool FC and AC Milan at Anfield. (Pic by Paul Currie/Propaganda)

2 Liverpool lineups vs. Benfica as Klopp considers rest for Mo Salah

After a 10th consecutive league win, attention swiftly changes to the Champions League for Liverpool and Jurgen Klopp has more options at his disposal than ever before.

Despite the international break potentially derailing Liverpool’s momentum, the Reds picked up from where they left off against Watford to kickstart their relentless run-in.

Now, it’s all eyes on the European Cup and Benfica – a tie that is positioned between two huge meetings with Man City in two different competitions.

But there will be no questioning where Liverpool’s focus lay when they walk out in Lisbon on Tuesday night, with a fully fit squad hungry to lay down a marker before their Anfield return.

Here is how Klopp could set up his side against Benfica.


Team News

With no new issues arising from the win over Watford, it means Liverpool have no absentees for the trip to Portugal, you read that right!

  • Naby Keita back in training after minor knee injury; game likely too soon
  • Alexander-Arnold “ready” after being named on bench on Saturday
  • A fully fit, 28-man squad trained at Kirkby; no new injuries to report

Liverpool squad in training pre-Benfica

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Kelleher, Adrian, Pitaluga, Karius

Defenders: Van Dijk, Matip, Konate, Gomez, R. Williams, Alexander-Arnold, Robertson, Tsimikas

Midfielders: Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson, Keita, Jones, Elliott, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Milner

Forwards: Salah, Mane, Jota, Diaz, Firmino, Minamino, Origi

Liverpool XI vs. Benfica

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Friday, March 4, 2022: Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during the FA Premier League match between Liverpool FC and West Ham United FC at Anfield. Liverpool won 1-0. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

The manager confirmed he has a “full squad” available for the trip to Benfica, allowing for numerous possibilities of the best XI to get the job done and to manage minutes.

There are a handful who are certain to start, including Alisson, Virgil van Dijk and Fabinho, while rotation could come into play in other areas.

But the front three presents an interesting conundrum, with Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz both not selected in the XI against Watford:

  • Alexander-Arnold returns while Konate replaces Matip in defence
  • Fabinho back in XI with Henderson and Thiago on either side
  • Diaz gets the nod on the left, with Salah and Firmino lining up alongside

The team could then look like this:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Diaz, Firmino

A question to consider is if Mohamed Salah could be handed a respite? Klopp acknowledged the No. 11 and others would not ask for a break, leaving it up to him to decide in “specific moments.”

And this could be that time given the depth available and the access to five substitutions, with Salah having looked fatigued after a relentless schedule for club and country:

  • With the knock to his head not serious, Matip could keep his place
  • Thiago starts but with early substitution in mind; Keita a candidate to replace
  • Mane and Diaz on the flanks with Jota central; offering Salah a rest

Those tweaks see the Reds shape up as follows:

Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Mane, Diaz, Jota

Considering the options Klopp has, it would not be all that surprising to see him opt for a small curveball in his XI but there is certainly enough firepower to get the job done either way.

Liverpool will know not to take Benfica lightly despite their league struggles this season and while the Reds have not been firing on all cylinders, they know how to get the job done ugly if the situation calls for it.