Klopp defends decision to make 11 changes with Europa League final looming

Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

Before we get to the real story here, a question: Wednesday’s UEFA Europa League final is the biggest game for Liverpool since — when? The 2008 UEFA Champions League semifinal versus Chelsea? The 2005 Champions League final?

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The point is: it’s been a while since the Reds have featured in a game of such consequence, so it’s totally understandable that Jurgen Klopp elected to make a number of chances — 11, to be exact — for Sunday’s Premier League finale against West Bromwich Albion, right?

Even though we’re all (clearly) in agreement there, Klopp still was still peppered with questions over his lineup selection following a 1-1 draw at The Hawthorns. He wasn’t having any of it — quotes from BT Sport:

“I decided what the strongest side was. The problem would be if we came with other players and they were already with their mind on the next game.

“It would be absolutely normal, we cannot change this. If I come with the players everyone thinks I’m silly and if I don’t come everyone thinks I didn’t do the right job and I can’t change it.

“I brought the best line-up today which I thought was the best for this game. We made a few changes — 11 — and it absolutely made sense because it’s perfectly clear you cannot play here with 50 per cent concentration.

“The young boys did really well and we played football. We deserved this point and it was absolutely okay for us.”

Danny Ings (torn ACL) and Jordan Henderson (knee) were also handed returns to the first team after seven months and six weeks on the sideline, respectively. With Wednesday’s final fewer than 72 hours from kicking off in Basel, Switzerland, Klopp’s decision to rest the entirety of his first-choice lineup and also recall a pair of recovering veterans has the Reds optimally positioned to deny Sevilla a third straight Europa League title.