Liverpool vs. Flamengo
| Saturday, December 21st |
Club World Cup Final | Khalifa International Stadium
17:30PM BST / 12:30AM EST
Saturday’s final is a chance for Liverpool to secure their first Club World Cup trophy. Jürgen Klopp’s side beat Monterrey in the semi-final with a line-up full of surprises. Now, the manager will be hoping to have a few more of his first team players available for selection against Flamengo, winners of South America’s Copa Libertadores.
Gini Wijnaldum’s involvement isn’t so assured due to his recovering from a muscle injury picked up against Watford. But Virgil van Dijk is expected to return to the XI. That would stand the defense in good stead and allow Jordan Henderson to move back into the midfield.
Klopp’s other midfield choices are less predictable. Naby Keita has has been in great form of late but I wouldn’t say it’s likely for him to start two games in a row. It’s possible, though. It’s the same for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The manager often prefers James Milner in big games and given that the vice captain was substituted in the second half on Wednesday, he’s probably in line for a start in the final.
At the business end of the pitch you can bet the front three of Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mané, and Roberto Firmino will all be in the team if they’re fit and ready on the day.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Keita, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané
As a non-follower of Brazilian football, Flamengo are a mystery to me. But I’ve been finding some information on their road to the Club World Cup. A couple of interesting full back tidbits: ex-Chelsea and Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis plays for Flamengo, as does ex-Bayern Munich right back Rafinha. They also have a player who just goes by “Bill.” Like I said, interesting.
I’ve learned that manager Jorge Jesus has formed an attacking side at Flamengo that largely bucks the trend among Brazilian clubs to play deep and compact and then spring on the counter. Jesus has created a team that wants to bring the action to their opponent. Of course, Flamengo’s weakness would be expanding their play too much and providing open spaces for Liverpool to exploit.
Flamengo’s main goal-scoring threats are Gabriel Barbosa and Bruno Henrique, who was on the scoresheet in Qatar against Al Hilal, adding to the bag of goals they’ve filled for the club over their season.
On paper, you’d have to go with Liverpool for the win in this final. But the unknown factor in these matches between teams who have never played one another can move the needle in unexpected ways.
From the start I’m expecting Klopp to bring the full force of Liverpool’s attack and press against Flamengo. Stun them early with some dynamite moves, from the front three or elsewhere, I’m not bothered. Then control and dominate for an hour plus until they hand Henderson the trophy.
Afterwards, it’s a sweaty cake and cookies mixer in the dressing room and then back to England for the real business of winning the Premier League.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “You said I never played against a Brazilian team. That’s true, but Flamengo never played against a team like Liverpool as well. We will see who can make more of this tomorrow night.”
Jorge Jesus: “Others may think Liverpool are better, but if we get to the final we will see who is better. And I believe the best will be Flamengo, but it’s the hardest title we’ll ever play.”
Referee: AL JASSIM Abdulrahman
Assistant referees: AL MARRI Taleb, ALMAQALEH Saoud Ahmed
Fourth official: GHORBAL Mustapha
VAR: MARTINEZ MUNUERA Juan
Assistant VAR: Esteban OSTOJICH
Kickoff is set for 17:30PM BST/12:30AM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, we’ll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it’s released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.