Liverpool face their biggest test in the Champions League this season as they take on 13-time winners Real Madrid on Tuesday night.
There’s never a good time to face them, even if they’re lacking their usual abundance of superstar names, but the Reds will be feeling confident going into the clash.
They appear to be getting their season back on track with a 3-0 win at Arsenal resembling the top Liverpool side fans have become accustomed to in recent years.
Liverpool huffed and puffed for long periods but eventually broke the abject Arsenal down as Diogo Jota nodded in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s lovely cross on 64 minutes. Mohamed Salah and Jota added the other two to make it comfortable.
The fact Jota didn’t start at the Emirates Stadium left some Reds fans bemused. However, starting Roberto Firmino instead proved to be a smart decision by Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool’s contingent of Brazilian players weren’t in action during the international break.
But this will be a completely different ball game to an inconsistent Arsenal and Klopp has to give the nod to Jota, who has 12 goals in 22 appearances for Liverpool, for the trip to Madrid.
And the boss hinted his attacking ‘Fab Four’ could ALL start in what would be a bold move.
“There will be a moment when we give it a try. Is it tomorrow? We will see,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
He was being coy, but he did give it a try during the win over Arsenal as Jota’s came on in the 61st minute – seven minutes later the contest was all over as Liverpool went 2-0 up.
The foursome played together for 17 minutes before Firmino was substituted in the 78th minute. Could they play together longer against Los Blancos?
Chances could be difficult to come by and Klopp will be hoping they fall to Jota, who’s display at Arsenal and this season in general shows he’s Liverpool’s most ruthless finisher.
The logical solution would be to play the Portuguese forward in Firmino’s role, with the no.9’s struggles for form dating back to the middle of last season.
Recalling Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield in place of James Milner, who deserves huge credit for his shift in the middle of the park as well as at left-back against the Gunners, also makes sense.
However, there’s a way Klopp could fit Jota in without dropping an energised Firmino.
Although he’s not struggled as long as Firmino, Sadio Mane hasn’t been at it either. The Senegal star has scored just two goals in his last ten appearances for Liverpool and hasn’t scored in the Premier League since January 28.
Jota has experience playing on the left of Liverpool’s front three and also played on that side at former club Wolves so could come in for Mane.
Listen to full commentary of Real Madrid vs Liverpool LIVE on talkSPORT on Tuesday, kick-off 8pm.