Preview: Liverpool vs Benfica

Liverpool head into Thursday evening’s Champions League quarter-final second-leg meeting with Benfica knowing that any result better than a two-goal losing margin will see them progress to the semi-finals of the competition – something that, considering their dominating 3-1 victory at the Estadio da Luz last week, would appear an extremely likely outcome.

And, with Jurgen Klopp revealing in his pre-match press conference that he has a fully fit squad to pick from ahead of this evening, the Reds’ comfortable lead on aggregate could well lead to the 54-year-old selecting a somewhat rotated squad against the Eagles – especially with another showdown against Manchester City coming up on Saturday in the FA Cup semi.

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So, will the German make any changes to the side that started the 2-2 draw with City last weekend? Here’s how we think Liverpool could line up against Benfica…

With Klopp’s fully fit squad boasting an exceptional amount of strength in depth, we predict the 54-year-old will make six changes from his starting XI at The Etihad on Sunday.

In the back five, Alisson gets the nod between the sticks, while both centre-back Ibrahima Konate and left-back Kostas Tsimikas come into the XI for Joel Matip and Andy Robertson respectively – with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Virgil van Dijk retaining their spots at right-back and centre-back.

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In the middle of the park, after highly impressing in the first leg, Naby Keita makes a return to the side alongside Jordan Henderson – who drops back into the six – and Thiago Alcantara in Klopp’s three-man midfield, with the £180k-per-week Fabinho – who journalist Declan Carr dubbed “woeful” against City – dropping to the bench.

Finally, there are wholesale changes in attack, with all three of Mohamed Salah, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane being afforded a rest, while Harvey Elliot – who journalist Tom Barclay labelled a “wonderkid” – Roberto Firmino and Luis Diaz all come into the XI.

AND in other news: Liverpool in talks to sign “absolutely crazy” £42m talent, it could be bye-bye Salah

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