Jurgen Klopp’s Sparta lineup provides big clues for key Man City selections

Jurgen Klopp offered up some big clues for his Liverpool lineup against Manchester City with his selection vs Sparta Prague. Key absentees are notable.

Jurgen Klopp had a big task this week as he had to pick the Liverpool team to face Sparta Prague while making sure he didn't create problems for the weekend. Manchester City are coming to Anfield, after all.

He's managed to balance things very well. Here's what Klopp went for:

Caoimhin Kelleher; Joe Gomez, Ibrahima Konaté, Jarell Quansah, Andy Robertson; Wataru Endo, Alexis Mac Allister, Harvey Elliott; Cody Gakpo, Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez.

So what can we learn from that?


Liverpool's defence

No chances with Virgil van Dijk, then, who remains on the bench for this one. The captain is in desperate need of a rest, having played 120 minutes against Chelsea, then 45 against Southampton three days later and another 90 just a few days after that.

Conor Bradley gets some time off, too, after playing multiple positions over the last two weeks. In comes Quansah, who will almost certainly play the entire game against Sparta. Robertson is perhaps the surprise inclusion - it suggests Liverpool want him on the pitch for leadership above all.

But how Klopp manages Konaté and Gomez will be interesting here. One of the two will partner Van Dijk against City, after all.

A strong midfield

Klopp didn't have many options to change his midfield here without again relying on youth players. Bobby Clark and James McConnell both remain on the bench - along with Dominik Szoboszlai, with his place on the bench here almost certainly confirming a start on Sunday.

So Endo, Mac Allister and Elliott make up the midfield three. The hope here will be that Liverpool are comfortable enough to swap one or two of them out in the second half. Szoboszlai could use another half hour, and both Clark and McConnell are there to offer rest.

Attack is a formality

Liverpool were never going to risk Mo Salah from the off, so he remains on the bench here. He'll almost certainly get onto the pitch in the second half, though, in order to get minutes ahead of City.

Darwin Nunez, Mohamed Salah

5th October 2023 Anfield, Liverpool, Merseyside, England Europa League Football, Liverpool versus Union Saint-Gilloise Darwin Nunez of Liverpool with team mate Mohammed Salah of Liverpool before the kick off PUBLICATIONxNOTxINxUK ActionPlus12561762 DavidxBlunsden

But Diaz, Nunez and Gakpo were an inevitability. Klopp was never going to risk youth players if he didn't have to, while Elliott playing in the forward line would have further limited midfield choices.

Again, Klopp will hope that Liverpool are comfortable enough that Salah and a couple of youth players can swap in after halftime. That would give everyone a rest ahead of City.

Probable lineup vs Man City

So here's what the starting XI vs City looks like after seeing this:

Kelleher; Bradley, Konaté, Van Dijk, Robertson; Endo, Mac Allister, Szoboszlai; Salah, Nunez, Diaz.

Of course, we'll have a better idea once we see Klopp's subs. This, though, seems like a very real plan for the biggest game of the season.

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