The Final 11

1 more day to go until another champions league final for the reds, and the butterflies are staring to swirl around my stomach now. Not in a bad way, I think nerves is a normal human emotion for anything you care about. I got the same feeling before my first date with the Mrs, again before my interview for my current job, and many, many times this season supporting our beloved reds. So this is not a bad sign, just a usual symptom of fighting for something special.

I really am confident that our boys will get the job done, one thing I keep coming back to is the mentality of this group of players. I don't doubt the mind set of these lads one bit, and when you add that to the fact we have a better side than spurs, more depth than spurs, more experience in this competition than spurs and in my opinion a better manager than spurs, then it's hard not to see only one outcome. So the question's lie, what will be Klopp's starting 11 be for the final? How will Liverpool set up? Do we adapt the way we play to take advantage of Tottenhams weakness' or do we play our own game?

I think in modern football, you'd have to be very irresponsible and naive not to make minor tweaks in your side to deal with the oppositions strengths and flaws. I think it's obvious that Klopp and his backroom staff will identify these attributes of Spurs, and adapt our style slightly to suit, but overall I believe we will line up to play our own football, to set our own tempo and to control the destiny of this game. It's something Liverpool have done all season, we done it against Munich, we did it against Barcelona, I don't see that changing now.

So what is that set up exactly? Well to be honest, it would take us all day to explain every players role in an attacking and defensive sense, but primarily this team has been set up to have it's major outlets on the flanks. Surprisingly this doesn't necessarily come from our attacking wingers, but rather our outstanding wing backs in Robbo and Trent.

The signing of Fabinho and his ability to break down play and make interceptions has allowed more freedom for Trent and Robbo to become more deep laying creative midfielders than your stereotypical wing back, who just bombs up and down the line. That space is also made for them by the fact we have two of the premier leagues top scorers in front of them, who play on the opposite side to their preferred foot. This means that predominantly, they're looking to cut inside, which in turn overloads the centre of the park and allows more freedom down the flanks for Trent and Robbo.

Then there's the catch 22 for the opposition, because if they don't double up on Salah's Left or Mane's right, then your allowing the most deadly strikers in the Premier league to get the ball on their stronger foot for a shot on goal. So its a perfect balance in attack which is very hard to stop.

Yet somehow when Liverpool faced Tottenham at Anfield earlier in the season, Pochettino found a way to stop that in the second half, by playing Danny rose in kind of a cheating role down the left. I believe Davies was brought on to play left back, their defence moved to a back four, and Rose was kind of playing in that gap between midfield and defence, blocking that space for Trent to move forward. If the young scouser did, then rose would float into that space behind him and become the outlet for spurs on the counter. To be fair it worked rather well, but Liverpool had to gamble because the win was necessary, I don't see this working again in the final because Liverpool don't have to gamble irresponsibly for the win.

If Tottenham deploy a similar tactic, I think we will just acknowledge that, be composed and calm, and bit by bit, break them down and tire them until we find that weakness. One thing that has been outstanding this year is the lads ability to recognise what's happening on the pitch, and to have the leadership and experience to take advantage of what they're seeing with their own little tweaks. We've seen it so many times in recent weeks, Gini's goal against Cardiff, Origi's winner against Newcastle, Origi's winner against Barca. These are all opportunities that the lads have witnessed during the game, and taken advantage of when it counts.

So with all that in mind I believe Liverpool are going to set up to play their own game, of course they will, why wouldn't they? They're one of the best teams in Europe at the moment, certainly top 5.

So my starting 11 prediction for the final;

Allison Trent Matip Virgil Robbo


Hendo Millie

Salah Bobby Mane

The back four and Goalie pick themselves, the only player I think could be in the realms of possibility to change this back four is Gomez, but I don't see the need for him. Matip has been playing brilliantly this year once given the opportunity, and he has certainly in my eyes deserved to retain his spot. I see him doing so in the final. We might see Gomez introduced later in the game to beef up Liverpools defence if we're holding on, but I don't believe he will start.

I'll skip the midfield for now, and come back to it. As for the attacking 3, I think if Bobby is fit he starts, and there's no doubt the other two will also. Divock and Shaqiri obviously played big roles in helping Liverpool get to the final, but that is, and should be expected when playing for Liverpool. Whenever you get on that field wearing the liverbird on your chest, you should be expected to make a difference, and that's something we have this year which we haven't had for as long as I can remember. So the fact that we have two attacking players on the bench, who we know can come on and make an impact if needed is great to see. But as I said if Bobby is fit I think he starts. He hasn't been out for too long, so his fitness will still be right up there, but only time will tell.

Now back to the midfield, this is definitely the selection dilemma when it comes to the final, as it has been for majority of our season. It's funny we say that because this time last year, we only had Hendo, Mille and Gini who were fit enough to play the last chunk of the season.

The fact that Keita will miss the final is a blow, but we have so much depth and quality in our midfield, that I don't think we will notice too much. So who's the unlucky ones who don't start this game. I think obviously the ox will be on the bench, he's only played a few minutes of competitive football this season after returning from injury and there's just zero need for him to start this game.

So the options come down to four players, Fab, Gini, Hendo, and Millie. I think Fabinho has to start, he's been so instrumental to what we've been able to achieve this season. Not only does he break down the counters, but he's also a very good playmaker. You see him at times pinging balls all over the pitch like he's a veteran QB for the New England Patriots.

In front of him I've went with Hendo and Milner. Our captain has been in fantastic form as of late, since he's been pushed forward into a more comfortable and natural role for him, he's showcased his skills for all the doubters and demonstrated his leadership qualities. He deserves more than anyone to lift Ol big ears, and I've been visualising it all week.

Now for the last remaining starting position. Gini or Milner? This one is probably the hardest for me. Gini at the start of the season was the first name on the team sheet, his form was incredible and he had just taken it to another level in terms of his development. Add that to his heroics against Barca, coming on and changing the outcome of the game, it's hard to say no to him.

I was watching Redmen Tv yesterday and they brought up an interesting point about Milner, that he's certainly a player you'd want to be taking a penalty if it ends up going to a shootout, and you'd want him with fresher legs if so. Not after 120 minutes with his age. I think it's a very good point, and actually makes a lot of sense. But fuck that, we're not starting off to go to penalties. We're starting off to win this game in 90 minutes. I think Milner with his leadership qualities, and his experience will be chosen over Gini, and the flying Dutchman may be expected to come on a change the game just like he did at Anfield in the semi final second leg if needed.

So with one more day to get through until the build up well and truly begins, I don't know what to do with myself. I'm just floating around waiting, for tomorrow, thinking all thoughts Liverpool. I'm sure you are the same.

So whats your starting 11 prediction? and what will be the final score? Please leave your opinions in the comment section below, or head to the forum to write your own piece. C'mon you mighty Reds, We're going to Madrid!


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