Former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson has hailed Joel Matip’s influence on the team over the last few months, highlighting his ability to dribble out from the back as being a key contribution.
Matip has excelled alongside Virgil van Dijk in a defensive sense, but it is his ability to create from deep that has stood out for Lawro.
He told LiverpoolFC.com: “It would be tough on Matip [to not start the final]. He has been really, really good – and not just defensively.
“He has been a bonus because he has been coming out with the ball and committing opposition midfield players. If you’re a midfield player in that team, you’re looking at that and thinking it’s great because he’s giving you a little bit more room to play.”
Matip is a certainty to start against Tottenham in the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid on June 1 – and he’s absolutely earned his starting berth.
Like Dejan Lovren last season, he has become a vital member of the squad after enduring a period where most people weren’t sure whether he was good enough for the Reds or not.
As much as Joe Gomez is great, not starting with Matip would be very, very harsh, as Lawro says. Jurgen Klopp would surely be loath to split up his defensive partnership.
It will be interesting to see who gets the nod next season – and that’s without even thinking about Matthijs de Ligt being linked with the club.