Joël Matip will partner midfielder Fabinho in defence when Liverpool take on Bayern Munich in the first leg of their Round of 16 Champions League tie tomorrow. It’s maybe not the ideal situation, but it is the expectation, and few would bet against it.
The club, though, aren’t giving up hope entirely on Dejan Lovren being able to play—at least not for public consumption—with Jürgen Klopp insisting the 29-year-old Croatian hasn’t been ruled out despite kickoff being just a little more than 24 hours off.
“I don’t know 100%,” Klopp said. “It’s Monday and we play on Tuesday so most of that should be clear. Gini trained and looked really well. Shaq did a lot, so it will be close, we have to see. Dejan, I have to wait minute by minute [to see] if there is a chance.
Even if Lovren were to somehow pass fitness, having not played since the beginning of January—when he was pressed into service against Wolves in the FA Cup—it’s hard to imagine he would be match fit for a major Champions League clash.
An emergency bench option, maybe, given the lack of centre half options available to Klopp with Virgil van Dijk injured and Joe Gomez also out injured, but not a starter. Not at this stage. Xherdan Shaqiri also seems unlikely to be involved from the start.
His involvement in training is a positive, and he might be more likely to be involved than Lovren—though, one would imagine, also off the bench—but a start here against his former club is unlikely, and if he is to face them it may have to wait for the second leg.
As for the third question mark, having played in the last game, Gini Wijnaldum—who has suffered through an extended illness rather than injury these past two weeks—is the most likely to start. With Fabinho almost certain to drop back, his will be needed.