Revitalizing Liverpool’s Midfield: Diogo Jota’s Arrival Offers Hope and Solutions for Jurgen Klopp’s Squad
If it ain’t broke don’t fix it, goes the saying. Unfortunately, whatever ‘it’ is malfunctioned badly at Bournemouth on Saturday.
Liverpool’s epic 7-0 triumph against Manchester United just over a week ago made selecting a team to start against the Cherries a fairly easy process, you would think? Just the one change from Jurgen Klopp, bringing in Stefan Bajcetic for Jordan Henderson, with no risks taken over the captain’s slight cold.
Unfortunately, the Reds’ dismal showing and subsequent defeat means that it’s back to the drawing board this week as the German manager tries to come up with a side that can not only score at least three times against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, but also keep things tight at the other end of the pitch.
Criticism was directed towards Liverpool’s defensive back four for conceding a sloppy goal against Bournemouth, who are fighting against relegation. However, if we ignore their recent heavy defeats to Real Madrid, this was the first time their defense had been penetrated since February 4th. Considering this, it seems unnecessary to make any changes to the defensive line for the upcoming game on Wednesday.
Throughout the season, Liverpool has struggled to establish stable central defensive partnerships due to a series of injuries. However, if Virgil van Dijk and Ibrahima Konate can play together regularly, they may offer the stability that the team needs.
As for midfield, there is a decision to be made. In a crucial game like this, Klopp may consider reinstating his captain to ensure that the midfield remains active and dynamic. It is likely that Stefan Bajcetic, who has made a significant impact since joining the first team this season, may not have the experience required to compete against Real Madrid in midfield.
Liverpool may opt for a midfield trio of Fabinho, Henderson, and Harvey Elliott, which would offer more energy and mobility. However, Klopp must ensure that he maintains the right balance between attacking and defending, as he doesn’t want to leave his team vulnerable to Real Madrid’s counter-attacks.
It is unclear what Liverpool’s strongest attacking line-up is at the moment. Mohamed Salah is a certain starter on the right-wing, but there are places up for grabs in other positions. Diogo Jota has yet to score since his return from injury but could play in either of two other positions, and was the only player who tested Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto in the second half on Saturday. Roberto Firmino has the experience of playing against Real Madrid on the biggest stages.
To achieve one of the most remarkable comebacks in Champions League history, Liverpool will need a performance similar to the one they displayed against Manchester United, rather than the one against Bournemouth.
Klopp must decide whether to stick with the front three of Salah, Cody Gakpo, and Darwin Nunez that started both games or make changes by introducing Firmino or Jota, or even both. Predicting Liverpool’s starting line-up has become a challenge, but with more game time, Klopp may stick with his most recent starting trio and see where it takes him. However, should the game go into extra time, all five players could potentially feature.