Football News

Klopp springs major line-up surprise with no direct Firmino replacement vs Barcelona

By Harry Edwards

Published: 18:54, 1 May 2019

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has decided not to name a recognised striker for his side’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

Brazilian forward Roberto Firmino had been a doubt for the trip to the Nou Camp, after missing Liverpool’s 5-0 win over Huddersfield Town on Friday with a muscle tear.

Who starts for Barcelona and Liverpool? Five key things to know…

  1. Liverpool travel to the Nou Camp on Wednesday for their Champions League semi-final first leg.
  2. With Roberto Firmino injured, Reds manager Jurgen Klopp has opted to field no recognised striker, with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah leading the line.
  3. There are also starts for Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum and Joe Gomes.
  4. Meanwhile, Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez start for Barcelona against their former side.
  5. While Sergi Roberto has been picked ahead of Nelson Semedo at right-back.

And, with Firmino only fit enough for a spot on the bench, Klopp has opted against starting a recognised striker with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah named as the two attacking players.

In the other big story of the starting XI, Joe Gomez starts over Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, with the 21-year-old more defensive than his compatriot – something Liverpool will need to deal with Lionel Messi and co.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have handed starts to former Liverpool duo Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho, with the pair joined by the mercurial Messi up front.

Ernesto Valverde has also opted for Sergi Roberto to start at right-back, giving the Spaniard the nod ahead of Nelson Semedo, while Arturo Vidal starts in midfield.

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Liverpool fans react to Klopp’s strange starting XI

While many Liverpool fans were expecting to see Roberto Firmino miss out on the trip to the Nou Camp, there was still some surprise to see the way with which Klopp dealt with the forward’s absence.