Real Madrid’s qualification to face Liverpool in the Champions League final should now see Jurgen Klopp turn to Ibrahima Konate in Paris.
The big centre-half is Klopp’s go-to man in Europe, starting five of Liverpool’s six knockout ties. However, Joel Matip is the senior option and has been preferred by the manager in the Premier League all season.
It’s likely that, injuries not permitting, Matip will be the man lining up next to Virgil Van Dijk to face Madrid.
With the threat of Madrid winger Vinicius Junior now to contend with though, Konate should be considered.
Making the case for Konate
Vinicius has been exceptional for Carlo Ancelotti all season. While a good dribbler and a super finisher, the 21-year-old’s main threat is his pace.
Of the two players vying for contention next to Van Dijk, Konate is comfortably the pacier. Vinicius usually operates on his team’s left, meaning Liverpool’s right sided centre-back needs to be prepared.
Trent Alexander-Arnold will no doubt bomb on forwards into attack. This will at times leave the Liverpool right open for exploitation.
Matip is obviously a world-class defender and well used to dealing with attackers of all shapes and sizes. The 30-year-old is by no means slow and is a more well established partner for Van Dijk.
But every avenue needs to be meticulously planned for The Reds. Konate looks like he has got to grips with Champions League football already and won’t be overawed.
Realistically, there are three spots in Klopp’s team up for debate for the final. In terms of who should line up next to Van Dijk, we think Madrid’s qualities in attack have made the decision easier for the manager.