Jurgen Klopp’s got a difficult decision for the Champions League clash with Bayern Munich next week. We have a look at what he can do.
Virgil van Dijk picked up a one-game suspension against Napoli and is definitely out. Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren will likely miss it, too. Gomez certainly will after surgery, while Lovren has only a slim chance, according to Klopp.
“In the moment we prepare the game and in this preparation Dejan is not involved,” he told the official site. “We have to find other solutions.”
Those ‘other solutions’ will likely be either Fabinho or Jordan Henderson partnering Joel Matip.
Fabinho played there against Wolverhampton Wanderers in early January. Klopp wanted to use Henderson instead, however, before injury ruled him out – according to the Echo.
Klopp’s Bayern decision
Klopp’s decision will depend on where he most needs to stop Bayern. The difference between the two players are their defensive capabilities and so that surely drives the choice.
Fabinho is a more traditionally defensive player, capable of marking and tackling to a high standard. Henderson, on the other hand, relies on discipline and workrate.
If Bayern lineup as they have done in their last two games – wins over Hertha Berlin & Schalke 04 – then the choice is about style.
Yes, Robert Lewandowski is the biggest threat but a midfield of James Rodriguez, Thiago, and Leon Goretzka needs stopping.
There’s a lot of creativity in there – the kind that Fabinho specialises in stopping. If he can do it alone, the freedom is there for a more creative player alongside or in front of him. Klopp could go all-in on workrate, though.
Henderson, Gini Wijnaldum and James Milner can stifle midfields as a unit. Perhaps defending that way could allow Fabinho to watch Lewandowski as a centre-back.
That does leave Liverpool low on creativity, though. It relies entirely on the front three to create and score goals – and that might be giving Bayern too much credit.
Klopp’s decision certainly isn’t an easy one and it will reveal what he thinks of Bayern. Does he put a lot of faith in Fabinho to stop Bayern, allowing for an extra creative player for Liverpool to play their own way? Or pay them plenty of respect by packing the midfield and relying on the front three?
You’d have to say the former sounds right for Liverpool right now. They shouldn’t fear anyone – they can play their way with the players they have.