Liverpool host Bayern Munich in the first leg of a huge Champions League round of 16 tie at Anfield on Tuesday.
The Reds have been in strong form of late, with a 3-0 win over Bournemouth last time out in the Premier League, keeping them level on points with champions Manchester City at the top of the table.
However, Jurgen Klopp has a number of fitness and selection issues to contend with heading into Tuesday’s showdown with Bayern, with a defensive crisis of particular concern as Liverpool prepare to host the Bundesliga champions.
Virgil van Dijk is suspended for the clash, whilst Dejan Lovren is unlikely to return to full fitness in time for the game and Joe Gomez continues to miss out after undergoing surgery.
Here’s how Jurgen Klopp’s injury hit side could line up at Anfield.
1. Goalkeeper & Defenders
Alisson Becker (GK) – One of main reasons Liverpool came up short in the Champions League final last season was a lack of a world class goalkeeper. Loris Karius was at fault as the Reds were defeated in last year’s final, but with Alisson between the posts this term, Klopp’s side may fancy their chances of going all the way this time out.
Trent Alexander-Arnold (RB) – One of a number of Liverpool defenders who has been on the treatment table recently, Alexander-Arnold returned from injury as he came on as a substitute in Liverpool’s win over Bournemouth last time out. The Englishman is likely to add some much needed stability in defence with a return to the starting XI on Tuesday.
Fabinho (CB) – With defensive leader van Dijk suspended and Lovren unlikely to be up to speed in time for Tuesday’s game following a recurrence of his hamstring injury, midfielder Fabinho could fill in at centre back once more in the absence of alternative defensive options.
Joel Matip (CB) – As Liverpool’s only available recognised central defender, the importance of Matip’s role in the backline will be greatly increased in a game of such magnitude, with the primary task of containing Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski.
Andrew Robertson (LB) – Attacking threat in wide areas from the full backs has become a significant part of Liverpool’s gameplan under Jurgen Klopp, and Robertson’s overlapping runs down the left flank could be useful for the Reds against Bayern.
Georginio Wijnaldum (CM) – With Bayern Munich accustomed to a possession-based game, Wijnaldum’s energy and tenacity in midfield could be key to Liverpool’s chances of stopping the likes of Thiago Alcantara from dictating the game in the middle of the park for the visitors.
Jordan Henderson (CM) – The club captain has only recently returned from his own injury but, with Fabinho likely to be required to fill in at centre back, Henderson‘s discipline and leadership will be needed in the central areas against a Bayern midfield which is packed with quality.
James Milner (CM) – Having filled in at right back recently in the absence of Alexander-Arnold, his compatriot’s return from injury frees up Milner to return to his preferred midfield role. Naby Keita has shown improvements recently, but Milner’s experience is likely to see the veteran midfielder given the nod against Bayern.
Mohamed Salah (RW) – Jurgen Klopp may be facing an injury crisis at the back and a couple of selection dilemmas in midfield, but the frontline virtually picks itself for Liverpool. Salah is in fine form for the Reds once more this season and established himself as a man for the big occasion in the Champions League last term. The Egyptian’s pace could cause problems for David Alaba, with the Bayern left back often looking to press forward, leaving space in behind.
Roberto Firmino (ST) – Another attacker who tends to deliver on the big stage, Firmino‘s link-up play with his fellow forwards is as key to Liverpool’s game as his goals. The Brazilian’s energy and work rate in attack should offer a stern test for Bayern’s often unconvincing defence.
Sadio Mane (LW) – The forward’s pace could cause the likes of Sule and Hummels a myriad of problems on Tuesday.