Jürgen Klopp clearly has a Liverpool team in mind for the Real Madrid game, having taken a major quadruple decision already. But certain dilemmas still remain.
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As Liverpool prepares to face Real Madrid in a crunch Champions League tie under the lights at Anfield, Reds boss Jürgen Klopp is likely to face a number of big selection calls. With Virgil van Dijk, Roberto Firmino and Diogo Jota having returned to the fold in the past week, Klopp now has a variety of options at his disposal.
The win over Newcastle at the weekend was full of positives for Liverpool, however the knock sustained to Darwin Núñez will be a concern ahead of the clash with Los Blancos. Núñez, who scored as the Reds ran out 2-0 winners at St James’ Park, is currently nursing a shoulder injury which will be assessed ahead of the game.
With Firmino and Jota now back available after respective injury lay-offs, Klopp may look to protect Núñez and not risk aggravating the 23-year-old forward’s knock. That said, the German boss will undoubtedly be tempted to gamble on Núñez’s fitness, with the Uruguayan having been so impressive in recent fixtures against Newcastle and neighbors Everton. In his press conference, the manager revealed that there was a ‘chance’ for the big-money summer signing to feature, but that it would depend on his reaction to training.
Of course, this is not the only selection dilemma facing Klopp. With many of Liverpool’s players having started two consecutive games in just over a week, it would be tempting to perhaps make a couple of changes to ensure everyone remains as fresh as possible.
This said, Klopp’s conservatism in the win over Newcastle — he withdrew Cody Gakpo, Núñez, Stefan Bajčetić and Jordan Henderson on the 60th minute in a quadruple change — probably suggests that he is planning to start with a similar side against Real Madrid to the one he fielded against the Magpies. The midfield three of Fabinho, Bajčetić and Henderson has proven effective as Liverpool has arrested its slide with back-to-back wins in the last two Premier League outings.
Perhaps the only other slight bone of contention lies with Virgil van Dijk, who having just returned from injury, played the full 90 minutes against Newcastle at the weekend. One would, however, expect the Dutchman to start the game — he is comfortably one of the first names on Klopp’s Liverpool team sheet for a reason.
Predicted Liverpool team: (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Bajčetić; Salah, Gakpo, Núñez