As Liverpool prepare for the Champions League final against Tottenham, we look at the selection dilemmas Jurgen Klopp faces ahead of the Madrid showdown.
Who makes up the midfield three? Does Divock Origi keep his place? And is Trent Alexander-Arnold undroppable?
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Wijnaldum or Milner?
Come kick-off, 20 days will have passed since Liverpool’s last game, and this will take up most of Klopp’s thinking time with regards to selection.
Milner started the second leg against Barcelona, but an Andrew Robertson injury forced Klopp to move him to full-back, introducing Wijnaldum. The rest was history as the Dutchman’s double formed the filling of one of the greatest Anfield nights.
Looking at Klopp’s approach for both Premier League games against Spurs this season doesn’t offer many clues. Both Wijnaldum and Milner started, but with a different third midfielder – Naby Keita in the September win at Wembley and Henderson in March’s win at Anfield.
Keita is injured for the final, and on recent form, Jordan Henderson and Fabinho are shoe-ins to start. Henderson has benefited from drifting further forward, while Fabinho has oozed confidence in the last few months.
But the Wijnaldum-Milner conundrum may come down to Klopp’s guesswork on Spurs’ line-up. The German may opt for the dynamism of Wijnaldum if Spurs start Moussa Sissoko and Victor Wanyama, with the option of Milner to shore up a lead in the last quarter of the game.
But if Klopp wants to reduce risk – not exactly a trait he’s known for – Milner would get the nod. All eyes on 7pm Saturday night when the team sheets are published.
Has Origi earned a start?
Origi has stepped in admirably during Roberto Firmino’s absence; the winner at Newcastle, two goals in the Barcelona comeback, and another good display on the final day against Wolves.
But sentiment should not trump reason. Origi has done enough to at least plant some seeds of doubt in Klopp’s mind, but Firmino’s brilliant consistency over the season means he should have enough credit in the bank for a starting place.
Liverpool confirmed in the week that Firmino will be available in Madrid after a groin injury kept him out of the final three games, but don’t be surprised to see Origi appear late on if it gets tight and the dynamic changes.
There is Daniel Sturridge, who has surprisingly started more games this season than Origi (eight to seven), but the English striker is more of an option from the bench.
Trent starts, surely?
To follow his approach for the Nou Camp semi-final first leg would be a huge risk for Klopp. Liverpool started Joe Gomez at right-back in the 3-0 defeat, and though the scoreline was harsh and Liverpool played well, Alexander-Arnold is in the form of his life.
He’s just broken the record for Premier League assists from a defender, and his man-of-the-match performance in the second leg against Barca at Anfield will go down in history a la Gerrard vs Olympiakos if Liverpool are victorious in Madrid.
Gomez had a superb start to the season before his injury in winter, but leaving Alexander-Arnold out in Madrid would be a huge shock.
Granted, Harry Kane’s return could change Klopp’s approach, and Klopp would have no doubt mulled this over at least once in the three weeks since the Premier League finale, but you’d have thought this was a decision wrapped up early.
Pick your team
But how would you set Liverpool up in Madrid? Put yourself in Klopp’s shoes by picking your formation and starting line-up using our team selector.
Follow the Champions League final on Sky Sports
You can follow all of the action of Tottenham vs Liverpool from the Wanda Metropolitano on the Sky Sports app and skysports.com with our dedicated Champions League final live blog, which will feature the best build-up, commentary and reaction from Madrid.