Liverpool take on Atletico Madrid in their Audi Cup final match up tonight and Jack Hallows has a very specific idea of how he’d like to see them line up.
Liverpool wiped the floor with Bayern Munich last night and the Reds go again just 24 hours later with Atletico Madrid awaiting them in the Audi Cup final.
A fluid 4-2-3-1 style system was fielded against the German giants last night with Philippe Coutinho playing the creative role in midfield alongside a pairing of Emre Can and Jordan Henderson.
Fans were also given our first look at how a front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané can perform when asked and with two goals and an assist between them, the trio didn’t disappoint.
It would be very surprising to see the Reds line up with exactly the same starting XI after a number of players completed between 75 and 90 minute stints against the Bavarians.
So, bearing that in mind, what starting lineup could we expect to see tonight?
Goalkeeper – Simon Mignolet
Loris Karius was given the opportunity to stake his claim against Bayern Munich last night and for good reason. The German’s distribution and willingness to fill a sweeper keeper style role behind Liverpool’s back four were both highly necessary against a side who look to play in behind such as Bayern but Atletico will provide a different challenge.
While it’s not Mignolet’s strong point either, Karius has a notable weakness against crosses and high ball slung into his box – something that Atletico may look to exploit more than the German side did with Fernando Torres and Antoine Griezmann both adept in the air.
Add to that the fact that Klopp will have been wanting to have an equal look at both Karius and Mignolet throughout this summer and all signs point to the Belgian being given a start.
Right Back – James Milner
With Trent Alexander-Arnold having played just under 80 minutes yesterday evening and Nathaniel Clyne and Joe Gomez both injured, Klopp should seriously consider giving Milner a run at right back.
The Englishman isn’t a full back and we know this but playing on the right-hand side allows him to cross on his stronger foot and negates one of the biggest issues he had going forward for much of last season.
Milner is reportedly fit and ready to play, so even if he only gets 45 and Alexander-Arnold comes on for the second half, he should be given an opportunity to get his match fitness built up.
Centre Back Pairing – Ragnar Klavan & Jöel Matip
Lovren played 90 minutes last night against Munich so that likely rules him out of a starting berth against Madrid so the likely replacement is going to be Ragnar Klavan. For me, the Estonian does a decent job most of the time when called upon and with Gomez injured, he’s the only real option.
Matip only played just over an hour last night and the Cameroonian will likely be given the opportunity from the starting whistle once again.
Left Back – Andrew Robertson
If Milner starts at right back, it’s almost certain that Robertson will start on the left-hand side.
Alberto Moreno was quite honestly superb against Munich last night but he did play for 90 minutes – with a slight thigh injury according to Klopp – and this should see Andrew Robertson given an opportunity to impress.
The Scot is tipped to challenge Milner for the starting left-back spot this season and will need as much game time as possible before the new season starts if he’s going to be in full flow by the time the Premier League rolls around.
Holding Midfielder – Emre Can
The German did start against his former club last night but only played 45 minutes.
Can looked solid in the holding midfield role and with Henderson having played just over an hour last night, it’s likely that Emre will be given a start in the ‘6’ ahead of the captain.
Even if he only plays 45 minutes once again to be replaced at half time, I’d like to see him given another start as he pushes Wijnaldum and Henderson for a starting berth going into the new season.
Central Midfield – Gini Wijnaldum & Adam Lallana
Philippe Coutinho got a solid run out in Liverpool’s midfield last night and while Wijnaldum and Lallana both played 45 minutes, I felt we didn’t really get a solid look at either of them.
Wijnaldum was a little more noticeable than his midfield counterpart but neither really made a prominent impact on the fixture other than doing the industrious and hard working parts of the game well.
While my first choice midfield three for this coming season would probably be Henderson – Wijnaldum – Coutinho, I’d like to see Lallana prove he’s still as important to the system as he proved last campaign.
Right Wing – Ryan Kent
Mo Salah got a solid run out last night and with the Egyptian having scored four in five so far during his first summer with the club, an injury to the flying winger could be fatal. So for me, if he features, he features for 30 minutes or so towards the end of the game.
Part of that is also because I’d like to see more of this lad play.
He hadn’t really impressed me until his bright cameo during last night’s fixture against Bayern Munich but I’m aware of just how highly many Liverpool fans rate him so I’d like to see him given a real chance to impress.
He’s got a lot of pace, quick feet and has a reputation on Twitter for having a solid cross on him. On paper, he sounds a real capable replacement for Salah and if he’s picked I’d like to see him take the chance with both hands.
Left Wing – Sadio Mané
He played 45 minutes last night and looked like he’d never been away, tormenting Brazilian right back Rafinha to the point that he just looked like a Sunday League level player.
The Senegalese opened the scoring within 10 minutes with a typical ‘counter-attack and finish’ strike and was at the heart of the Reds’ best moves during an impressive first half.
He admitted himself the other day that he was probably two or three games away from full fitness and with Bayern counting as one, I’d like to see him given another 45 minutes against Atletico to give him the best chance of featuring at Watford on opening day.
Striker – Dominic Solanke
I’d have gone with Sturridge after how good he looked during his cameo last night but as is the way for the unluckiest player in football, he looked to tweak his quad muscle while scoring his goal.
So, for me, Solanke should be given another opportunity to impress.
The 19-year old has been superb this summer so far – if you read the site often, you’ll know how highly I rate him – and his movement, positional understanding and surprising yard of pace are all real assets for Klopp.
He’ll likely come up against a shrewd Atletico defence – doesn’t matter who’s in it, their reputation for clean sheets is practically second to none in Europe – and it’ll be a real test of his credentials.