Jurgen Klopp confused people with his plan for Midtjylland. It could end up making a lot of sense in a week’s time, however.
Everton expected a weakened team to face Midtjylland on Wednesday. The game didn’t mean anything, after all.
The win over Ajax a week ago put Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 as group winners. Couple that with the Danes already being out and the fixture is a dead-rubber.
From Liverpool’s perspective, that’s a great thing. Their packed schedule and injury crisis means any opportunity to rest players is golden.
So why didn’t Jurgen Klopp take that chance here? He started both Fabinho and Mohamed Salah – two stars who started the game against Wolves at the weekend.
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But while this plan may seem ‘crazy’, it could look very smart in a week’s time.
Midtjylland isn’t the big fixture and, in truth, nor is Fulham at the weekend – and that surely plays into Klopp’s plan.
The big one is undoubtedly against Tottenham Hotspur in a week. That could easily be one of the biggest games this season, the way things are shaping up.
So that’s the one Klopp may have in mind, here. And if you think that way, this lineup makes sense.
If the boss plans on resting against Fulham, he can’t effectively rest the same players here, too. Doing that would mean certain stars won’t have played since the Wolves game.
Then you’ve got the opposite problem to needing rest – needing sharpness. It’s a delicate balance but one Klopp can make work.
If he wants to leave Salah, Fabinho and Trent Alexander-Arnold out of the starting XI against Fulham, playing them against Midtjylland ensures they won’t lose any sharpness.
Then he can afford to rotate a bit against Fulham and give himself fresh players for the Spurs game.
We can’t be 100% sure this is the plan, of course. Perhaps he plays them all twice – in which case, we’d just have to assume their fitness is off the charts.
But we’ll hold out to see the whole plan before castigating Klopp for this one. There could be a grand plan in action.