Liverpool have been struck by injury issues to key forwards Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino, ahead of their semi-final second leg clash against Barcelona.
Liverpool will be faced with the gargantuan task of overturning a three-goal deficit when they face off against Barcelona in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final tie at Anfield.
The first leg at Camp Nou last week ended in a 3-0 win for the La Liga champions, with captain Lionel Messi leading the way. And Liverpool will have their task cut out on Tuesday night, if they are to qualify to the final of the competition for the second season in a row.
However, the Reds’ cause hasn’t been helped by injuries to several key members of the side. Starting with defence, star man and PFA Player of the Year Award winner Virgil van Dijk did not train with the rest of the team on the eve of the game and was instead made to go through individual sessions, casting doubts on his availability for the blockbuster clash.
Given the importance of the game, however, the Dutchman is expected to feature even if he is not completely fit. There is likely to be a change alongside him though, with Dejan Lovren set to make way for Joel Matip after a forgetful display in the 3-2 win against Newcastle United on Saturday. No changes are expected in the full-back slots, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson both set to start.
Naby Keita has been ruled out for the season after he picked up an adductor injury in the first leg in Spain last week, while Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also doubts, having not taken part in team training at Melwood.
Jurgen Klopp could opt to switch formation to a 4-2-3-1 on Tuesday night, with captain Jordan Henderson and chief enforcer Fabinho set to form the two-man midfield axis for the home side. Georginio Wijnaldum, who featured as a false-nine in the first leg, is likely to take up the No. 10 slot in order to add more bodies in the final third of the pitch.
The attacking department is where Liverpool have been hit worst by injuries. Star attacker Mohamed Salah has been ruled out due to a concussion, after he injured his head in the Newcastle game, while Roberto Firmino is also unavailable with a muscular problem that had kept him out of the weekend clash.
Speaking of the duo in his pre-match press conference, Klopp said, “Both are not available for tomorrow. It’s a concussion [for Salah], so that means he would not even be allowed to play. He feels OK, but it is not good enough from a medical point of view, that’s all. He is desperate and everything, but we cannot do it.”
This would open up spaces in the attack for Xherdan Shaqiri, who contributed in the win against Newcastle with an assist. The Swiss winger should slot in on the right flank, while Divock Origi, who scored the winner at the weekend, is likely to line up on the left, with Liverpool set to operate with Sadio Mane as the focal point of their attack.