Liverpool take on Benfica in the Champions League later today. Here, three of our writers select the starting XIs we would like Jürgen Klopp to choose.
Liverpool are 3-1 up heading to Anfield to play Benfica tonight with the game coming between two heavyweight clashes with Manchester City.
With that in mind, Jürgen Klopp will likely make a change or two — but how many should he feel comfortable with doing? With a huge game having already been played this week and another one to come in a few days, there are some big calls to be made.
These are the teams that some of our Liverpool.com writers would select.
Matt Addison – Mohamed Salah needs to sit it out
Alisson Becker will be in goal but then I’d be making a few changes. I’ll stick with Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back but Ibrahima Konaté and Virgil van Dijk are my centre-backs. I’ll go for Kostas Tsimikas at left-back to give Andy Robertson a rare rest.
In midfield, I’m definitely having Naby Keïta. Fabinho was dreadful, particularly in the first half, against Manchester City, so I’m keeping him in to put that right. I’ll go for Jordan Henderson as well because he came off early at the weekend.
Up front, Roberto Firmino and Luis Díaz come in having not started on Sunday at the Etihad Stadium. There is no way that Mohamed Salah should play. I’ll save Sadio Mané for the weekend and have Diogo Jota on the right.
My starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Keïta; Jota, Firmino, Díaz
Predicted scoreline: 2-1 to Liverpool
One thing to watch: Darwin Núñez to offer another transfer pitch.
James Martin – Wildcard start for Jones
Klopp faces a balancing act with his selection here. For all his insistence that the Manchester City game will not come into his thinking, the fact is that he is heading into this match with a two-goal advantage. That will not be true at the weekend, so if he can rest anyone for that fixture, it makes sense.
Equally, the Champions League is the bigger competition, and Liverpool fought tooth and nail just to be in it this season. Klopp will certainly want to make sure the job is done. That requires a relatively familiar back line: Alisson in goal, with the return of Konaté over Matip probably the only nod to rotation.
In midfield, Thiago has had his fitness woes, while Henderson is now rarely one for a full 90 minutes. With both likely to be important in the FA Cup, both can sit out here. Keïta certainly earned a game with his performance in the first leg, while Curtis Jones can offer some relief to the captain in what may well be his last chance for minutes this season. Fabinho is too crucial, and will duly act as the shield.
In attack, I’ve restored both Díaz and Firmino, thus rotating two-thirds of the attack that started at the weekend. It will be fascinating to see what Klopp does with his line-up in the repeat fixture against Man City, but for now this kind of selection ensures freshness. Salah will have to go again to try and score his way out of a slight funk, something he may well manage here.
My starting XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Jones, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Díaz
Predicted scoreline: 2-0 to Liverpool
One thing to watch: Mohamed Salah to break his mini-drought.
Adam Brown – Utilise squad depth ahead of next Man City clash
The mantra of game-by-game may have to be put aside on this one as Liverpool look ahead to a FA Cup clash against Manchester City on Saturday. A 3-1 advantage means there is less pressure on the Reds here as Benfica come to Anfield and are forced to play attacking football.
Three changes from the weekend should see Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konaté and Kostas Tsimikas brought in to allow rest for Liverpool’s defenders, and I’d even like to see Virgil van Dijk withdrawn around the hour mark if the Reds have secured a three-goal advantage on aggregate.
A rare off-game for Fabinho means he could do with playing himself back into form for Saturday, while Naby Keïta returns to the side having impressed against Benfica last time around. I’ve gone for Henderson to maintain leadership amid a changed side but I don’t think Klopp would be worse off by starting the likes of Curtis Jones or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Up front sees Firmino and Díáz come in after missing out at the weekend. With Benfica unable to sit back in this one, this is a great game for Salah and Díaz to take advantage on the counter-attack as Firmino conducts moves through his presence in the false nine position.
My starting XI: Alisson; Gomez, Konaté, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Fabinho, Henderson, Keïta; Salah, Firmino, Díaz
Predicted scoreline: 3-0 to Liverpool
One thing to watch: Salah and Díaz to both get on the scoresheet through Firmino’s link up play.
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