Virgil van Dijk will miss out due to suspension when Liverpool host Bayern Munich at Anfield in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg.
Liverpool will be aiming to grab a major foothold in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie with Bayern Munich, when they welcome the Bundesliga champions to Anfield on Tuesday night. Jurgen Klopp though, has a central defensive crisis on his hands ahead of the key European fixture.
Virgil van Dijk is the major absentee for Liverpool, with the Dutchman suspended after being shown his third yellow card of the group stage campaign against Napoli back in December. In addition to van Dijk, Klopp is also without Joe Gomez due to a long-term leg injury.
Rounding out the defensive troubles is the concern over Dejan Lovren’s availability, with the Croat struggling with a hamstring injury. Klopp provided an update on Lovren during his pre-match press conference, iterating that the centre-back will face a late fitness test that will determine whether he can face Bayern Munich.
“Dejan, I actually have to wait minute by minute if there is a chance or not. But that’s pretty much all, I would say.”
The Liverpool boss also hinted that Fabinho could play as a centre-back, a role the Brazilian has reprised twice this season. Klopp said, “If – if – [Fabinho plays there] in the Champions League against Bayern Munich it’s not an easy job. But we thought it makes sense we don’t leave our last row alone defending against Bayern; [so] it all depends how we defend in general. That’s it.”
Fabinho should take van Dijk’s place at the heart of the Liverpool defence against Bayern Munich, with Joel Matip being his partner. Fortunately for Klopp, goalkeeper, Alisson Becker and first-choice full-backs, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are available, meaning the trio should start for the hosts.
In midfield, there were lingering concerns over the availability of Georginio Wijnaldum, who had braved illness to produce a match winning performance against Bournemouth. Klopp though, asserted that the Dutch midfielder is completely fine now, while also commenting on the availability of Xherdan Shaqiri, who is recovering from an abdominal injury.
“I don’t know 100 per cent. It’s Monday and we play on Tuesday so most of that should be clear. Gini trained and looked really well. Shaq did a lot, so it will be close, we have to see.”
Firmino missed squad training session and worked out alone as precaution to stop virus spreading. #LFC confident he can play v Bayern, just as Wijnaldum and Milner did v Bournemouth with similar issue
— David Maddock (@MaddockMirror) February 18, 2019
Wijnaldum should start in midfield for the hosts, with Jordan Henderson and the in-form Naby Keita being his partners, with James Milner being an option off the bench. Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino also presents a major concern to Klopp, having missed training on Monday due to a bout of illness.
But, the reliable David Maddock has claimed that the Brazilian will play against Bayern Munich, just like Wijnaldum had against Bournemouth two weeks ago. If Firmino is unavailable, Daniel Sturridge could get a rare start, while Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane are automatic selections.