Xherdan Shaqiri may still have a vital role to play as Liverpool hunt for a trophy. The Swiss attacker has seen his minutes reduced since December.
Football is a squad game but your starting XI is how you achieve success. Liverpool’s is almost fixed, as we’ve seen over the last three months.
There’s some debate about the midfield but Jurgen Klopp quite clearly has his back five and front three sorted.
He’s stuck with roughly the same side in every game over the last few months, only really changing when forced to.
And Shaqiri’s seen his time on the pitch dramatically reduced as a result.
He didn’t start a Premier League or Champions League game until October 20th but things certainly picked up after that. Klopp named Shaqiri in the starting lineup 12 times before the end of January, with the Swiss scoring six and assisting another two.
Shaqiri hasn’t started since, however, and has looked increasingly marginalised as Liverpool push towards a trophy.
But this may have been the plan. We know that Klopp likes to stick with his front three and that leaves no room for Shaqiri. But he did turn to him over the busiest period of the season, utilising Shaqiri to rest the stars.
And as Liverpool prepare for Porto, they know that progression would leave them without any breaks until the rest of the season. That’s no mid-week breaks between six must-win games.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on three players every week. They will almost certainly need to rest when they can afford to.
Klopp used Shaqiri against Chelsea – albeit for less than a minute – his first appearance for well over a month. As the fixture list compacts, he may well be preparing to turn to him once again.