Liverpool vs Benfica
| Wednesday, April 13th |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
Following on from a high-pressure, high-intensity match producing a relatively anticlimactic result at the weekend, Liverpool are back in action in a critical fixture, hosting Benfica at Anfield, and hoping to add to their two-goal advantage in order to make passage into the semi-final as unexciting as possible.
As Águias did what they were supposed to at the weekend, trouncing rock bottom Belenenses 3-1 at home, courtesy of a Darwin Núñez hat-trick, but are still well out of the top two in the Primeira Liga with five games to go, and direct Champions League qualification for next season looks increasingly unlikely.
As such, tomorrow night looks set to be the Lisboetas’ last gasp effort of the season, and Jürgen Klopp and his men — along with the Anfield faithful — will be looking to make it a tame one.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konaté, van Dijk, Tsimikas; Henderson, Keïta, Jones; Díaz, Firmino, Salah
Going into tomorrow’s fixture with the advantage they do, and the FA Cup final coming up on Sunday, one expects some rotation from the Reds, and Klopp confirmed today that there are no injuries in the squad.
At least two members of the back four are likely to get a rest, and Ibrahima Konaté’s performance in the reverse fixture should justify his inclusion next to Virgil van Dijk once more, and a return to the XI for Kostas Tsimikas seems plausible, but the real question is whether Trent Alexander-Arnold gets some time off and Joe Gomez features at right-back.
In midfield, Fabinho looks in need of a break and Jordan Henderson could take double pivot duties alongside Naby Keïta, with Curtis Jones offering attacking thrust, although a start for either Thiago or Harvey Elliott wouldn’t be surprising.
Up top, expect Luis Díaz to get another go at his former rivals, with Sadio Mané making way, while Roberto Firmino should replace Diogo Jota for the occasion. Mohamed Salah will be torn between his physical need for a rest and the psychological desire to break his goal drought.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “It’s 3-1 at half-time; it’s as tricky as 2-0. A good basis, but if they score one, like we felt against Inter, the game changes. We felt it when they scored last week. We really need to make them feel this is a place they don’t want to go.”
Nélson Veríssimo: “We go into this game with ambition and belief in the work we are doing. We know we have a two-goal deficit, but things can change if you score, and if we score first we can change the course of the game.“
The Officials (NED)
Referee: Serdar Gözübüyük
Assistant referees: Joost van Zuilen, Johan Balder
Fourth official: Tasos Sidiropoulos (GRE)
VAR: Pol van Boekel, Dennis Higler
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM 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.