It’s a massive ask tonight at Anfield, with Jürgen Klopp’s hand being forced to change his familiar attack as we face off against Barcelona and try to overturn the tie.
The main issue is the warring priorities we need to contend with – keeping Barça from scoring is a must, but our main objective here is to obviously get at least three goals ourselves.
In terms of defensive personnel, we’re as prepared to do that as we can be. It’s a very recognisable back-four, one that has been marshalled by Virgil van Dijk and kept 20 clean sheets in the Premier League.
With Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold operating the full-back positions, we need them to shuttle up and down the flanks, guarding against runs and making their own as they whip in laser-guided crosses into the box.
We need to translate a mean, top-flight defence into a European knock-out format, however. But the art of not conceding doesn’t end at the backline, we defend as a team and the midfield will need to put in an extremely diligent, yet dynamic, performance.
— Liverpool FC (@LFC) May 7, 2019
In the engine room, Jordan Henderson, James Milner, Fabinho will need to execute a midfield masterclass if we’re to get anything out of this. They need to break up play, feed the full-backs, and at least one of them is going to have to step up and create something in the final third.
It’s a true shame that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain won’t make it onto the pitch for this. He’s worked so hard to fight back from injury and it would have been a magical way for him to end his season.
But, Rhian Brewster, the fleldging star, could make his debut tonight and what a welcome to the stage that would be for the 19-year-old striker. Even more so if he somehow came up with the goods!
Jordan Henderson: “We’re not just playing for pride – that’s not enough for Liverpool – we’re playing to win and make the final. Whether we can do it or not, we’ll find out at full-time, but we owe it to the fans to make sure until the final whistle goes, we never stop.”
— DaveOCKOP (@DaveOCKOP) May 7, 2019
Which leads us to the trident; an unfamiliar one lacking two of its prongs. On his day, Sadio Mané is unplayable and he’s scored 11 in his last 14, but the trio together are prolific because of their interplay.
Stars of the stage Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino are both unavailable for tonight, which is a crushing blow. It would have been a monumental task with them, but at least we might have the element of surprise if Barça haven’t studied us throughly.
Understudies to maestro Mané on the night, waiting in the wings are Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri who could take the left and right respectively. Origi is fresh from scoring yet another vital goal at Newcastle – we’ll need to call on that trick again of course.
His assistant in pulling it out of the hat? Shaqiri. It’s the Swiss forward’s first start since January.
Fittingly, now is the time for Klopp’s stand-ins to stand up, score, and put in the performance of their careers.
Anything less than that and it won’t just be bad reviews for them, nor simply being eliminated from the Champions League, it will be the failure to pull off a legendary football miracle.