Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is set to shock fans with his team selection for the crunch champions league second leg semi-final clash against Barcelona on Tuesday night. The Reds will try to overturn a 3-0 deficit when the La Liga champions step on the Anfield turf and they will have to do that tow of their key players in the person of Mo Salah and Roberto Firmino.
Salah was ruled out of the encounter based on medical grounds after he suffered a concussion in the Kop’s 3-2 win over Newcastle on Saturday night. The former As Roma striker was stretchered off midway through the second half following a clash with the Magpies goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.
Roberto Firmino meanwhile missed the game and is likely not to play again for the Red this season due to a muscle strain. Speaking in his press conference, Kop boss revealed the players that could replace the injured duo including a surprise mention of Rhian Brewster.
“He’s ready, yes. There is a big chance. It’s nearly sure. It’s guaranteed,” he said of the 19-year-old Londoner’s involvement. “Rhian has now arrived with us after being heavily injured. Day by day, he has got better and better and he has been in just outstanding shape for the last three or four weeks but the other players were there as well.
“Next season he will be playing 100%, and he knows that. I have told him already. It’s really nice in a difficult situation that we can give him that spot in the squad and have him there to bring on as a striker. When you’re on the bench, you are an option to play.”
Oxlade-Chamberlain felt a muscle pull while warming up at Newcastle on Saturday, and is now receiving treatment, which means he is almost certainly a non-starter. Van Dijk is a doubt after playing for weeks despite a foot issue, although Klopp believes he could be ready.
Salah has pleaded to be allowed to play, but Klopp says his hands are tied after the Egyptian’s head injury in the Newcastle game: “It is a concussion and that means he will not be allowed to play. He feels OK, but that is not good enough from a medical point of view. He is desperate, but we cannot do it.”
Brewster will not be the only surprise Klopp springs as he looks to repeat the masterstroke he produced when almost overturning a 3-0 Champions League quarter-final first leg deficit as Dortmund manager against Real Madrid five years ago.
That night, he recalls, he made “seven or eight positional changes” and his line-up could also see some radical tactical switches as he looks to surprise Barca. Klopp could also play a completely different system to his usual 4-3-3.
“Some things will be new, 100%, with not really any time to train,” he said. “That’s how it is, but I am still looking forward to it. It’s all good. It’s the Champions League and you want to be a part of it. “We have to make a lot of decisions for this game. Tomorrow will be the third game in six days and Barcelona [who have already wrapped up the La Liga title] changed 11 players on Saturday.”
Klopp has told his players he doesn’t want them to die wondering and to go out and give everything, even if it means being shot down in flames: “That is the plan — just try. If we can do it, wonderful. If not, then fail in the most beautiful way.”
LIVERPOOL Alisson; Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk; Alexander-Arnold, Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Robertson; Mane, Origi.
BARCELONA Ter Stegen; Roberto, Pique, Lengelt, Alba; Vidal, Busquets, Rakitic; Messi, Suarez, Coutinho.
Referee: Cuneyt Cakir (Turkey).