Liverpool travel to Barcelona on Wednesday evening for what is a crucial Champions League semi-final inside the Camp Nou, where Jurgen Klopp’s men will have the chance to score a vital away goal.
It will certainly be a tough task for the Reds against one of the best sides in Europe, and it will be an enticing watch as to who comes out on top between Lionel Messi and Virgil van Dijk, arguably two of the best in their positions in world football.
However, the job could be made harder for Liverpool if Roberto Firmino cannot recover from his ‘small muscle tear‘, which ruled him out of the 5-0 win over Huddersfield.
Watch “Jurgen Klopp’s” hilarious masterplan for winning the title in the video below…
The Brazilian is a crucial cog in Klopp’s team, and his absence could be a significant factor in Liverpool’s chances of getting a result against the Spanish champions.
Firstly, let’s see how the Reds may set up with Firmino available…
This is how Klopp opted to line his side up against the Terriers, apart from Daniel Sturridge coming in for Firmino, and saw a performance from his men which yielded five goals and a clean sheet; a real swashbuckling showing.
However, if Firmino is unavailable, the former Borussia Dortmund boss will have to rethink things – Sturridge was ineffective against the league’s basement side in Huddersfield, so he can’t be seriously considered against Barcelona.
Of course, Xherdan Shaqiri is an option to come in, so too is Divock Origi, but we don’t think that Klopp will spring any surprises; instead, we think he may just alter one in-form star’s position slightly…
Instead of bringing in a recognised attacker, Klopp should move Keita out onto the left-wing, and put Sadio Mane into the centre-forward role where he has shone at times this season.
The Guinean international has played out on the left four times in the current campaign, and it is an area that Klopp has said in that past that Keita can play in due to his ‘speed’ and ‘football intelligence’.
The chain reaction of Firmino missing out and pushing Keita wide would then make room for Georginio Wijnaldum, who has recently seen his spot hijacked by a resurgent Jordan Henderson.
In Mane’s case, the Senegalese international played as a centre-forward in the 5-0 win over Watford earlier in the season, a game in which he netted two goals – including an expertly taken back-heel chip over Ben Foster.
Given the lack of quality in the forward options behind Firmino, such as Origi and Sturridge, this would be Klopp’s best lineup in the absence of his first-choice No.9, and would go some way to helping them get a result and potentially a crucial away goal.