With just over 24 hours to go until the UEFA Champions League final in Kiev, Ukraine, excitement is building as Liverpool and Real Madrid lock horns in the battle to become Champions of Europe.
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Jurgen Klopp and Zinedine Zidane both possess an embarrassment of riches in attack but both coaches know they have weaknesses in defense.
With that in mind, we are expecting attack-minded starting lineups from both coaches. But who will get the nod for the XI?
Below is a look at my projected starting lineups for the final in Kiev, as well as analysis on the gameplan for both teams.
—– Karius —–
— Alexander-Arnold — Lovren — Van Dijk — Robertson —
—- Milner —- Henderson —- Wijnaldum —-
—- Salah —- Firmino —- Mane —-
Analysis: At this point, there are no real surprises in Liverpool’s squad as Klopp is without the likes of Joe Gomez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain through injury and the back five pick themselves. The only real dilemma will be in midfield but even then the duo of Emre Can and Adam Lallana have been out injured and aren’t fully fit, so James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum are likely to start alongside Jordan Henderson in a midfield three. Then, up top, well, Salah, Firmino and Mane will start with Danny Ings and Dominic Solanke on the bench.
—– Navas —–
— Carvajal — Ramos — Varane — Marcelo —
—– Kroos —– Casemiro —- Modric —–
—- Isco —–
—- Benzema —- Ronaldo —-
Analysis: Like Liverpool, the back five pretty much select themselves for Zidane with Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane a talented central defensive duo but marauding full backs Dani Carvajal and Marcelo will leave plenty of gaps for Salah, Mane and Firmino to expose. In midfield the silky duo of Toni Kroos and Luka Modric will pull the strings, while the robust Casemiro will look to stop and Salah and Co. from getting at Ramos and Varane. The forward three is the biggest dilemma for Zidane with Cristiano Ronaldo certain to start centrally, but the likes of Marco Asensio and Gareth Bale could well find themselves on the bench with Isco and Karim Benzema likely to get the nod, plus Lucas Vazquez pushing hard for a starting spot. Having Bale (in fine form with four goals in his past three games) fresh to bring on from the bench may well just prove to be the difference if the game becomes tight and tense in the second half.