Jurgen Klopp is taking a huge chance this week as he names a very strong Liverpool lineup vs Porto. The German is backing his players to an incredible degree.
Going into this week, we expected rotation. Liverpool had three games in eight days that could define their season – or at least the first half of it.
First came Brentford away. It was a tricky game that Liverpool expected to win. Then FC Porto away in the Champions League. In a tough group, avoiding defeat was always going to be important.
And then the big one – Manchester City at home. A gigantic game for Liverpool, as it is every season. Winning is a massive step towards title contention.
Thus rotation felt important. The Brentford game always felt the least important, then followed by Porto and with City sitting atop the pile as the must-win game.
It was surprising, then, to see Klopp name an XI without rotation against Brentford. That surely meant resting at Porto ahead of City in order to guarantee fresh legs for that one.
Only, it didn’t.
Liverpool’s lineup vs Porto
Klopp named 10 of the XI players against Brentford to face Porto. It’s essentially the best possible team, minus Trent Alexander-Arnold (he has a groin issue).
This is largely the team we expect to face City, meaning these players will play three times in eight days. And there are a good few in there with questionable fitness records.
Is Virgil van Dijk capable of it after missing a year? Is Joel Matip? Jordan Henderson almost never plays this often, given he’s quite prone to breaking down.
But more importantly, will the likes of Andy Robertson or Mohamed Salah be at their best against City after playing two intense games over the previous week? That seems unlikely.
Roberto Firmino is there, as are Joe Gomez and Ibrahima Konate. The boss could rotate if he wanted – he just hasn’t.
Klopp has taken a big risk with this one. He’ll look like a genius with two wins. Anything less and there will be real questions.