By Adam Brown – @AdamMNVi
Champions League football returns as Liverpool travel to Ajax on Wednesday night.
The Premier League champions will be without Joel Matip and Thiago as Jurgen Klopp opts for caution ahead of the trip to Amsterdam. The Reds are taking no chances after both players picked up knocks against Everton.
A test against a tricky Ajax side makes Fabinho the option that makes most sense alongside Joe Gomez. Rhys Williams and Nat Phillips have travelled and could feature at some point during the competition.
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Here’s how we should line up:
Fabinho starts at centre-back in an otherwise full-strength back four. Trent has been caught out a couple of times in consecutive games so must be more aware against an Ajax side not short of tricky wingers in Dusan Tadic, David Neres and Antony.
The skipper starts from the six in a role he could share with Thiago for the foreseeable future. Henderson’s leadership will be vital with Alisson and Virgil both unavailable.
A start for Curtis Jones in the more advanced midfield role makes sense here. Jones has consistently impressed when given opportunities in the first team and could threaten Ajax with support from Gini Wijnaldum. Naby Keita has returned so could also feature.
One change to the front three sees Takumi Minamino start upfront. Klopp must use the squad ahead of a congested fixture list; Liverpool take on Sheffield United on Saturday. Firmino is yet to find his best form this season and could benefit from a rest.
Diogo Jota should be introduced at some stage after an impressive showing on international duty. The Portuguese winger has looked threatening for the Reds and could be a prominent feature of Klopp’s Champions League setup.
Ajax must be respected. The Dutch side will take chances if they are handed to them, but Liverpool’s strength in attack should be too much in Amsterdam on Wednesday night.
Score prediction: Ajax 1 – 3 Liverpool
How does Chris think Jurgen Klopp will line up the Reds in the first Champions League game of the season? Check out the Starting XI Prediction Show below!