Midtjylland vs Liverpool
| Wednesday, December 9th |
Champions League | MCH Arena
5:55PM BST / 12:55PM EST
For the first time in Jürgen Klopp’s tenure, Liverpool go into the final round of the Champions League group stages not needing a win. In fact, they don’t even need a point, having secured top spot in Group D with their win over Ajax last week.
That win was only enough because tomorrow’s opponents took points off Atalanta on the same night, however, and Midtjylland will no doubt be looking for a second consecutive upset, even if any hopes of further European participation this season have already been dashed.
The Wolves have done alright for themselves since their narrow 1-0 loss at Anfield back in October, with three wins, a draw and a loss in the league, and sit top of the table in the Danish Superligaen at the halfway point.
Brian Priske will have to make do without Jens Cajuste who misses out with coronavirus, but top scorer Andreas Dreyer — who came so close to breaking his and the team’s Champions League duck back at Anfield — will be available, as will former Celta man Pione Sisto and captain Erik Sviatchenko.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Kelleher; Fabinho, Matip, Williams, Tsimikas; Henderson, Jones, Wijnaldum; Mané, Firmino, Salah
There will naturally be questions about how Jürgen Klopp will approach this game, the lone dead rubber in a season packed to the gills with must-win contests stacked back to back to back. In the past, similar fixtures low on the list of priorities — think Carabao and FA Cup games — have featured a bevy of youngsters to go with the fringe first team players, and there is little to suggest tomorrow’s match will be treated differently.
As such, predicting a lineup is pure guesswork, but we move nonetheless. Joël Matip and Fabinho will be rested, so two of Rhys Williams, Nat Phillips and Billy Koumetio are likely to start in central defence, while Kosta Tsimikas will make his third start of the season, and a debut for Conor Bradley could potentially be on the cards.
In midfield, James Milner, Thiago and Xherdan Shaqiri remain unavailable, and Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum will undoubtedly be rested, but som playing time in search of match fitness for Naby Keïta might not be entirely out of the question. Curtis Jones has featured in every matchday squad this season and will take part again tomorrow, and perhaps the 19-year old veteran will take on a leadership role for what will be an inexperienced XI tomorrow. Leighton Clarkson could be a dark horse starter.
Up top, the deadly front four will likely all be rested, but both Takumi Minamino and Divock Origi might both feature from the start in order to get some competitive minutes. The pair are likely to be joined by one of Luis Longstaff or U23s captain Liam Millar, while the game likely arrives a few years early for established Anfield hero Oakley Cannonier.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “ Since Sunday, I’ve thought a lot about them. We will be prepared. We were lucky to beat them. Really good performances and that is how it is.”
Brian Priske: “Of course we do not know 100% who Liverpool will line up with, but to start with, our focus is on ourselves, There is no doubt that we need to be compact on the defensive, whether we are pushing hard or defending.”
The Officials (FRA)
Referee: François Letexier
Assistant referees: Mehdi Rahmouni, Cyril Gringore
Fourth official: Amaury Delerue
VAR: Clément Turpin, Jérôme Brisard
Kickoff is set for 5:55PM GMT/12:55PM 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.