Jurgen Klopp boss can’t possibly form a game plan to face Leeds United this Sunday. The Reds’ boss needs an answer to his Liverpool headache.
Liverpool face Leeds United in two days. That’s okay. That’s normal. What isn’t normal is that neither side can comfortably say which players are suspended or not.
An issue with the Brazilian national team could force FIFA to suspend players. That would mean no Alisson Becker, Fabinho or Roberto Firmino for Liverpool and no Raphinha for Leeds.
Now as things stand, those players will be suspended for Sunday. But clubs are apparently hoping that they will still be able to use them. We just don’t know.
And without a firm answer, Jurgen Klopp faces an impossible task.
Klopp forms Leeds plan
Leeds are a tough team to face, led by one of the world’s most inventive and meticulous managers in Marcelo Bielsa. Going in underprepared is a nightmare.
Now, Leeds do have their own problem in this situation with Raphinha but we imagine they’d just swap him out for Daniel James. That’s a fairly simple response.
As for Liverpool, two of their three problems fix themselves. If Alisson can’t play, Caoimhin Kelleher will. Firmino is injured and actually can’t feature anyway.
But there’s a real problem with Fabinho. His inclusion completely changes Liverpool’s midfield setup.
If he’s available, Fabinho will anchor the midfield and shield the defence. Liverpool will then lineup with two midfielders either side of him – presumably Jordan Henderson and one other.
Fabinho’s defensive brilliance means Klopp can afford to go quite attacking with his other midfield options. We could see Harvey Elliott again, maybe Curtis Jones – perhaps Thiago.
But if Fabinho can’t play, then Henderson will likely sit as the anchor. He’s not quite as strong defensively, however, and Klopp almost certainly won’t go very attacking with his other two.
We find it hard to believe he’d have Elliott and Thiago in front of Henderson, in other words. It just feels too risky against a very clever side. Instead, Naby Keita or James Milner (if he’s fit) may come in for Elliott.
That’s two very different strategies depending on Fabinho’s availability. It’s difficult to believe that Liverpool can properly work on them both ahead of the game at Elland Road.
Instead, Klopp may have to gamble. That’s a difficult situation with just two days to go, though.
Hopefully, we get a firm answer soon. Otherwise, Liverpool risk heading into this one a little underprepared.