Liverpool must go for an attacking lineup to take advantage of Real Madrid’s skipper Sergio Ramos’ absence tonight in the Champions League.
Diogo Jota simply has to start but Roberto Firmino also does. On Saturday, Arsenal’s back four was pretty resolute until the introduction of Diogo Jota from the bench, with the little man scoring within three minutes of being brought on by Jurgen Klopp.
And while Jota will get all the plaudits for his brace, Firmino seemed more at home as he was dropped into an attacking midfield role where his dribbling and work rate was more effective.
Real Madrid are not to be trifled with and complacency will surely be punished by the La Liga champions but with Sergio Ramos out with a calf injury, and Raphael Varane set to miss the clash due to a positive coronavirus test, Liverpool need to go for the jugular.
Playing away from home in the first leg of a Champions League tie comes with inherent pros and cons. Jurgen Klopp needs to make sure his side heads into the second leg with a healthy lead and multiple away goals before dominating proceedings at home.
Firmino and Jota must start together at The Alfredo Di Stéfano Stadium
Instead of the usual 4-3-3, Jurgen Klopp should start against Real Madrid with an attacking 4-2-3-1 lineup. Jota should spearhead the attack, with his goalscoring form too good to be left out.
According to WhoScored, Jota has netted six goals in his last four games for club and country. With the former Wolves’ star in red hot form, Jurgen Klopp simply cannot leave him out.
Firmino, however, should drop into midfield where he can link play together and ensure that the responsibility of creating chances isn’t rested solely on the shoulders of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson.
This would also help ensure that the two fullbacks can sit a bit deeper and nullify the threat of Vinicius Junior and Karim Benzema on the counter-attack. It was reported earlier this week that Zinedine Zidane plans to target Trent as the Reds’ supposed ‘weak link.’
It’s my view that this could leave Los Blancos vulnerable at the back themselves but Klopp should err on the side of caution by limiting Trent to a degree while increasing his midfield’s creativity by including Firmino.
A win in Madrid tonight would be huge in Liverpool’s hopes of progressing to the final of the Champions League.
After a poor season domestically, winning the European Cup for a seventh time would make this season a resounding success despite the role injuries have played.
Predicted starting XI: Alisson, Robertson, Kabak, Phillips, Trent, Fabinho, Thiago, Firmino, Mane, Jota, Salah.