The 2018 World Cup starts in little under two weeks and there are a number of Liverpool players heading to Russia – here are five that will be crucial for their respective nations.
Liverpool have looked like a completely rejuvenated side this season under the able management of Jürgen Klopp. Their season was rounded off by a disappointing but extremely rewarding appearance in the final of the UEFA Champions League.
They have asserted themselves as a major powerhouse both in England and Europe, and the Anfield faithful will be looking forward to next season as the biggest candidate to challenge the Manchester clubs for the Premier League title.
With all the countries having named their full squads for the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia, we look at the most competent players from Liverpool who are expected to be crucial for their national team’s campaign in the World Cup.
5 – Dejan Lovren
Heavily criticised ever since his £20 million move from Southampton, Lovren has blossomed into a great defender since the arrival of Virgil van Dijk. With van Dijk sharing the burden of defensive responsibilities, Lovren has risen in confidence and has been able to prove himself as defensively solid.
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With the most high-profile name in Croatia’s defence, he is expected to lead the line with former Spurs defender Vedran Corluka. However, the question remains: will Lovren be able to keep up his level of performances with the national team, as his consistency is suspect? Croatian football fans will be having huge expectations from the Liverpool man to marshall their defence.
4 – Jordan Henderson
Another Liverpool player silencing his critics this season, Jordan Henderson has clearly assured himself of the armband with Liverpool. Often dubbed the “sideways and backward pass master”, Henderson has proved invaluable in an extremely regimented Liverpool, with his ability to initiate attacks.
With Eric Dier expected to partner him in the defensive midfield role, Henderson will be expected to play the long balls, as Dier is not as technically adept as the Liverpool skipper.
His workrate and vision will be crucial to Gareth Southgate’s plan for Russia as they head to the World Cup without the likes of Jack Wilshere and Henderson’s teammate Oxlade-Chamberlain.
3 – Roberto Firmino
Competing for the starting position of the Seleção with a 21-year-old Gabriel Jesus, Firmino will be looking to bring more a lot more presence to the team with his ability to link-up with the midfielders and contribute to the attack.
He even announced his intentions after scoring at his home ground Anfield, for Brazil in an international friendly against Croatia.
Definitely a favourite of Klopp’s, it remains to be seen who Tite will start in Russia but Firmino is sure to get minutes under him, as a far more experienced player than Gabriel Jesus.
Off the back of an incredible season, with 27 goals and 17 assists across all competitions for Liverpool, he will no doubt be an important part of the Brazil squad and their World Cup ambitions.
2 – Sadio Mané
An absolute warrior, his individual efforts exceed all the players around him. No matter what the circumstances are, one will always expect results from Sadio Mané, whose individual presence was on show in the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid.
With star player Salah injured, Mane single-handedly led the Liverpool fight-back and was the biggest threat on the pitch.
Going to the World Cup with Senegal, they are not to be underestimated with players like Kalidou Koulibaly, Keita Balde and Idrissa Gueye to accompany the talismanic Liverpool forward.
They are more than capable of doing what Ghana accomplished in the 2010 World Cup and will be looking to cause an upset.
1 – Mohamed Salah
An absolute revelation this season.
He had a groundbreaking, record-shattering belter of a season. Nominated alongside household names Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi for the Balon d’Or, having scored an astonishing 44 goals this season for Liverpool.
He survived something of a scare in the UEFA Champions League final after appearing to dislocate his shoulder, but the Egyptian FA confirmed that Salah will be playing in the World Cup after it was discovered he only bruised ligaments in his shoulder.
With an entire nation’s hope pinned on one man, there is no doubt who the spotlight will be on in the 2018 FIFA World Cup. While Egypt don’t boast an extremely talented squad compared to the other teams, Salah just gives them a big edge in attack with his immense talent.