Reigning UEFA Champions League champions and current leaders of the English Premier League Liverpool have had a fantastic run this season in all competitions. There’s not much for the manager Jürgen Klopp to be discontent of, when it comes to his team’s efforts, but the German rose few eyebrows blasting the organization of the Club World Cup tournament, played in Qatar from 11th to 21st of December.
Liverpool will enter the stage for the semi-final against Mexican side Monterrey on the 18th, while they are set to play in EFL Cup semi-final against Aston Villa on the 17th and were originally scheduled to play a Premier League fixture at West Ham on the 21st. It’s no surprise Klopp had his say on the issue after having to name two separate squads for EFL Cup and the Club World Cup, with the West Ham game postponed as well.
While criticizing the amount of games in such a short time period, Klopp quickly found his normal, positive tone. Heading to Club World Cup is not an everyday treat for any club and Liverpool have longed for the renewed international recognition. Klopp named a strong 20-man squad in the competition, with addition of youngsters tasting the international atmosphere for the first time with the senior squad. Back home though, entering the field against Aston Villa in the EFL Cup, the team is, in a word, unproven.
Heading to Qatar are practically all the first team starters, except for injured Dejan Lovren. The strong squad features: Alisson, van Dijk, Wijnaldum, Milner, Keita, Firmino, Mane, Salah, Gomez, Adrian, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Lallana, Lonergan, Shaqiri, Robertson, Origi, Jones, Alexandre-Arnold and Williams. Left to play in the Carabao Cup semi-final is then, literally the Liverpool U23 squad, without their key players.
While Liverpool has a lot of talent in their youth setup, surely the experienced Championship and Premier League players of Aston Villa are headed to the semi-final as favorites. According to Liverpool based journalist Jack Sear, this is how Liverpool is likely to set up against Villa:
GK | Caoimhin Kelleher | 21-years-old
RB | Ki-Jana Hoever | 17-years-old
CB | Sepp van den Berg | 17-years-old
CB | Morgan Boyes | 18-years-old
LB | Yasser Larouci | 18-years-old
CM | Pedro Chirivella | 22-years-old
CM | Herbie Kane | 21-years-old
CM | Isaac Christie-Davies | 22-years-old
RW | Harvey Elliott | 16-years-old
LW | Luis Longstaff | 18-years-old
ST | Layton Stewart | 17-years-old
It remains to be seen, if Klopp’s criticism will go unheard by the football’s governing bodies – surely having several different senior squads available is not the way anyone wants to head towards.