Football News

Jurgen Klopp explains surprise changes to Liverpool XI vs Barcelona

By Harry Edwards

Published: 19:54, 1 May 2019

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has explained why he decided not to start Roberto Firmino in their Champions League semi-final first leg against Barcelona.

The Brazilian missed Liverpool’s 5-0 Premier League win over Huddersfield Town last Friday but had expected to be fit for the trip to the Nou Camp.

Why did Firmino not start against Barcelona? Four key things to know…

  1. Roberto Firmino was a doubt to face Barcelona on Wednesday after missing Liverpool’s Premier League win over Huddersfield.
  2. The Brazilian was cleared by Liverpool’s medical staff to start, but Jurgen Klopp opted to keep Firmino on the bench.
  3. Instead, he lined up with Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah in attack.
  4. And Klopp has revealed he did wasn’t sure if Firmino could play 90 minutes against Barcelona.

However, Klopp shocked fans by leaving Firmino on the bench for the game, opting to play Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah as a two-man attacking line, with Naby Keita providing support.

And Klopp has now revealed he ignored the advice of Liverpool’s medical staff, who had cleared Firmino to play.

He said: “Bobby wants to [play] and the medical department told me ‘yes, it’s good’ but then you have to make sure – I’m not sure if 90 minutes or whatever.

“So he doesn’t have to start, that’s why we start like we start. Bobby is on the bench, that’s good news.”

Liverpool will be hoping for a good away performance against Barcelona to put them in control ahead of next week’s second leg at Anfield. The Reds are looking to reach a second consecutive Champions League final after finishing runners-up to Real Madrid last year.

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It made sense to start Gomez over Alexander-Arnold

Klopp leaving Firmino on the bench at the Nou Camp was not the only decision which surprised Liverpool fans. The inclusion of Joe Gomez, who hadn’t started since December, also raised some questions, especially given the impressive form of Trent Alexander-Arnold.

But Klopp also gave his reasoning for the switch at right-back, claiming it made “absolute sense”.

He added: “It’s the same for Trent; it was clear when Joe would be available again that there would be a game and I think today it makes absolute sense in that position.

“For Trent it’s good, he can refresh a little bit, there are important games to come. But the first thing we wanted to make was a good line-up for tonight and for a good line-up you need legs and that’s what we tried to make sure.”