Jurgen Klopp handed Sadio Mane dilemma as Robeto Firmino decision looms

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Football News » Liverpool » Jurgen Klopp handed Sadio Mane dilemma as Robeto Firmino decision looms

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Jurgen Klopp may feel he has been here before as he prepares to welcome Real Madrid to Anfield on Wednesday.

After all, it was less than two years ago when Liverpool hosted La Liga opposition needing a spirited Champions League comeback.

Of course, as the second leg of this quarter-final tie edges ever closer this week, the parallels with the 4-0 win over Barcelona in 2019 will be made.

It’s an easy sell, but one that is not exactly a mirror image of the task that awaits them now.

We need a perfect performance on Wednesday if we want to just have a chance,” Klopp said.

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The way we played and the way Real Madrid played there, it doesnt look very promising.

But the good thing is we can play better, which will change the game already. But we have to.

It will be a tough one, but we will give it a try I can promise. Thats the only thing we can say.”

Barcelona, of course, wilted when confronted with a white-hot Anfield atmosphere in May 2019.

A three-goal lead was overturned as Liverpool produced one of the most remarkable fight-backs in the history of the European Cup to move into a final they would win.

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It’s a night that will live in the collective memory forever.

And while something similar will be needed on Wednesday night against the 13-time winners of the Champions League, Liverpool head into it with their most potent weapon blunted.

If you want to have some emotional memories, you watch the Barcelona game back and 80 per cent of this game was the atmosphere in the stadium, I would say,” Klopp said after last week’s defeat.

“We have to do without that. We have from time to time, but we always had supporters in the stadium. We dont have that this time.”

If the Reds will have to go it alone this time, there are at least some positives that were not in their favour in 2019.

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Liverpool were made to enter into the Barca battle without Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino two years ago.

This time, both are available for Klopp alongside an in-form Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane, giving Klopp plenty of attacking options.

It is unlikely that all four of those will start against los Blancos, though, meaning Klopp will have a big call to make over who makes it into his front three.

Salah’s place in surely most secure.

With 28 goals to his name this season, he remains Liverpool’s most likely route to goal.

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Jota, with 12 for himself in his debut campaign with the Reds, also has a sizable claim on what is the biggest game of his Reds tenure to date.

It is maybe Mane and Firmino who are vying for that third spot as things stand.

With 263 goals between them as a trio at Liverpool, though, Klopp knows he still has, on their day, one of the most awesome attacking tridents on the continent at his disposal.

One area of Klopp’s team that is more predictable is his backline, with an unchanged defence once more expected against Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Which leads us to Liverpool’s midfield – the area that is so often the subject of change.

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Expect Fabinho to start at the base; the Brazilian’s return to midfield has coincided with the Reds’ charge towards the top four of late.

Who plays alongside him, however, are the two other huge calls that Klopp must get right.

Gini Wijnaldum, with 43 appearances to his name this term, is perhaps leading this particular race as things stand.

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Thiago Alcantara, fresh from his 30th birthday, was brought to the club for occasions such as this.

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The former Bayern Munich and Barcelona star will help his side keep the ball much better than they did in the first leg.

James Milner’s enduring influence and leadership qualities could also be vital against the streetwise Spaniards.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is likely to be left in reserve while Curtis Jones is a doubt after being left out of Saturday’s game as a precaution.

Source: www.liverpoolecho.co.uk

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