Ian Doyle – Ibrahima Konate starts
It’s the Champions League and that can only mean one thing – loads of substitutions. That’s why we shouldn’t get too hung up about who Jurgen Klopp starts in the quarter-final first leg at Benfica this evening.
Mind you, he’ll still want to go pretty strong.
Alisson Becker is the obvious goalkeeper choice, and if Trent Alexander-Arnold wants to prove his fitness this is the game to do so at right-back. Joe Gomez can always pop in later on if required.
READ MORE: Liverpool told they signed ‘extraordinary’ £ 50m talent who can solve any game
READ MORE: Egypt minister makes Mohamed Salah contract revelation after Liverpool meeting
PICK YOUR TEAM: Pick your Liverpool team for Benfica quarter-final in the Champions League
I’d go with Ibrahima Konate at center-back alongside Virgil van Dijk, with Andy Robertson in the left-back role.
Midfield, as ever, is a tricky one. Fabinho starts, and I’d be tempted to stick with Thiago Alcantara. There’s also room for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who is due a start.
Up top, the time has come to give Mohamed Salah a breather, although he’d get on at some point. Roberto Firmino, too, can do his thing from the bench. That means Luis Diaz left, Diogo Jota down the middle and Sadio Mane on the right.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mane, Jota, Diaz.
Paul Gorst –
So the first of a four-game series, of sorts, against Benfica and Manchester City starts with another Champions League quarter-final in Lisbon. It’s a huge game at the Etihad on Sunday but Liverpool cannot really afford to take their eyes off the match that is in front of them at present.
I don’t expect Trent Alexander-Arnold to return. I think his watching brief by him will go on with Joe Gomez keeping his place by him and Ibrahima Konate coming in for Joel Matip.
In midfield, Thiago Alcantara starts alongside Jordan Henderson and Fabinho with the potential to use those five subs to the fullest by preserving one or two if the result is looking favorable.
I think tonight my just he a good chance to give Mohamed Salah a breather too. The Egyptian has played an awful lot of football this calendar year so he can sit this out as Luis Diaz and Sadio Mane return with Diogo Jota leading the line.
My team: Alisson; Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Henderson, Thiago; Mane, Jota, Diaz.
Charlotte Coates – Mohamed Salah rested
In two weeks time, Liverpool could find themselves at the top of the Premier League, into the semi-finals of the Champions League and awaiting an FA Cup final. As Fabinho said after the win over Watford, every game is a final now.
Tonight is the first of them as Liverpool take on Benfica in Portugal in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final and I would expect a couple of changes to the side.
In goal will be the exceptional Alisson Becker. The four defenders in front will be Joe Gomez – I would expect Trent Alexander-Arnold to be introduced around the hour mark. Ibrahima Konate will come in for Joel Matip while Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson will keep their places.
Fabinho will come back into the side and he will be accompanied by Jordan Henderson and Thiago Alcantara in midfield. The ideal scenario would be to get Thiago off as soon as possible and have him fully rested for Sunday’s titanic clash at the Etihad.
This is where things get tricky as I believe Mohamed Salah will have to settle for a place on bench to give him some sort of rest. Luis Dias will start alongside Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson; Gomez, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Thiago, Henderson; Diaz, Jota, Mane.
Richard Garnett – Time to unleash Luis Diaz
Jurgen Klopp has somewhat of a conundrum when it comes to team selections this month. On one hand, he needs his best players on the pitch, but on the other hand he will want to juggle his resources di lui as best as he can to keep his side fresh as one huge match follows another.
Joe Gomez was excellent against Watford, but despite his assist, Liverpool lacked the dynamism of Trent Alexander-Arnold down that right flank. That’s why I believe, with Alisson Becker in goal, we could be looking at a back four of Alexander-Arnold (provided he is deemed fit enough), Ibrahima Konate, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson.
In midfield, Fabinho should return at the base of a trio alongside Thiago Alcantara, but Jordan Henderson looked a touch jaded second half against Watford, so I’m backing the fit-again Naby Keita to start, with Liverpool’s captain kept in reserve for Sunday’s huge match against Manchester City.
Up front, only Diogo Jota is an absolute banker to start for me, with Luis Diaz returning to the starting XI to face a team that he knows all too well from his time in Portuguese football. That leaves one other space to fill and despite his lackluster showing di lui against Watford, Salah just gets the nod for this one ahead of Sadio Mane.
My team (4-3-3): Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Van Dijk, Robertson, Fabinho, Thiago, Keita, Diaz, Jota, Salah