Over the past few months, Liverpool have fallen into a rhythm of rest and rotation, with the starting eleven changing radically for weekend and mid-week matches. With the focus on the Europa League, for the most part this has meant stronger mid-week squads.
Manager Jürgen Klopp, though, isn’t willing to say he has an A team and a B team, and he insists that the goal is to keep all his players fit in case they’re needed—and that those who are rested for tomorrow’s match against Chelsea but play on Sunday will still be in the mix come Sevilla in Basel.
“Most of the players who will play tomorrow will have had a normal week,” said the Liverpool manager. “Playing last Thursday and then on Wednesday, and then we will have fresh legs again for Sunday. We can’t say, stay at home and wait for the final. You need to be in game shape.”
The lineups may not be set in stone, with tomorrow’s starters certain to play in the Europa League final next week, but given the way Klopp talks of the “normal” week off many who will start tomorrow will have had, it seems safe to assume that tomorrow’s starters will at least have a leg up.
A few who will be rested tomorrow before starting on Sunday may be in the mix, but for the vast majority, the expectation is that a start against Chelsea will mean a start against Sevilla. As such, a strong team is expected tomorrow. And not just because of preparations for next week’s final.
Another key to tomorrow’s mid-week match is that, due to fixture changes and an overloaded schedule, it is not Liverpool’s final home game of the season. Watford on Sunday had been meant to fill that role, but instead it will be Chelsea, and Klopp wants to make it into another special occasion.
“To use the home advantage is big for winning football games,” Klopp added. “Our league position isn’t fixed. Fifth is still possible, and we will try everything to get there for sure.”