There would have been fierce competition in the Liverpool squad for a starting spot against Barcelona, as well as FC Porto and Paris Saint-Germain and on and on. Jürgen Klopp has created the depth at Liverpool that supporters have been hoping to see for far too many seasons and now there are honest to goodness challengers for places all over the pitch.
The Champions League final will be an event that every player will want to be involved in but only eleven players will have the honor of a guaranteed opportunity to make a difference against Tottenham Hotspur. Another three may experience action on the pitch but plenty of players will enjoy the game only as spectators.
Gini Wijnaldum is one of many players who are unsure of their role on June 1st. Klopp is expected to include Jordan Henderson, given the captain’s recent form, and who could see any reason to leave Fabinho on the bench. That leaves a single spot in the midfield to fill.
Wijnaldum and his teammates are used to competing against one another for match time but the Dutchman says the team is constantly improving together and feeling stronger together. That sweet unity.
“That’s how we’re used to it, always,” said Wijnaldum. “During the season, everyone is training hard and trying to show they should play.
“But we also train to get better as a team, so it’s both of those things – we want to play, we train to play, but also to get better as a team.”
Marbella is nearly over and a whole week still remains before Liverpool face Spurs in Madrid. Both Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino have been trying to keep the intensity levels high in their teams during the long break between the end of the Premier League season and the final. Rest has been good for the players after a long campaign, but too much rest kills the flow.
“We have to come back into rhythm again after the few days we had off and so far it’s been good,” he said.
“Normally, you’re in a rhythm of training and playing games, but now we don’t play a game for three weeks, so we have to find a rhythm again.
“At this training camp, we train hard, the circumstances can be tough with the weather, but you learn to get used to it. It’ll probably be the same in Madrid, so it’s good for us to have a camp like this.”
Does Klopp start Gini over James Milner? Do Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain or Naby Keita factor into the midfield conundrum? If you’re interested in questions without available answers you’ve come to the right place.