So tough: This could be Klopp’s biggest selection dilemma for Champions League final – opinion

Liverpool’s team for this Saturday’s Champions League final against Tottenham is pretty much set in stone.

Alisson Becker in goal, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold at full-back, Virgil van Dijk and Joel Matip at centre-half. The front three, fitness permitting, picks itself.

But the midfield three has had question marks lingering over it all season. Naby Keita, Georginio Wijnaldum, Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Fabinho have all been preferred during different periods of the campaign, while Adam Lallana and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be thrown into the equation as well – albeit as rank outsiders to start in Madrid.

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But a flurry of form towards the end of the season in a more advanced role, coupled with his captain status, suggests Henderson will start this one. Fabinho too, is Liverpool’s most unique midfielder – their only true holding player – and has featured in a lot of big games this season, including the full 180 minutes of the last two Champions League rounds.

With Lallana and Oxlade-Chamberlain only playing bit-part roles this season – the latter has only featured twice as a substitute in the Premier League after his year-long injury layoff – the final midfield slot would appear to be a question of either Milner or Wijnaldum.

Both of them have started 10 Champions League games this season, whilst also making one appearance from the bench, so it really is hard to tell who Klopp chooses for the final.

It would be extremely harsh to leave Wijnaldum on the bench after his two-minute double against Barcelona effectively got Liverpool into the final. The Dutch international admitted that he was ‘really angry’ with Klopp for leaving him on the bench in the second leg of the semi-final, so he’ll practically have steam coming out his ears if he gets sidelined again on Saturday.

Wijnaldum, formerly of Newcastle, has been excellent for the Reds this season, but you absolutely cannot discredit Milner’s experience and energy.

gini - So tough: This could be Klopp's biggest selection dilemma for Champions League final - opinion

The 33-year-old will be a valuable presence on the pitch if he plays, and a figure that the likes of Alexander-Arnold will turn to if things start to go haywire – Robertson name-dropped Milner as the guy who ‘didn’t even crack a smile’ when Divock Origi netted against Barcelona, instead waving his arms to the fans to demand more support.

To put the ball in Milner’s court though, if Liverpool are 1-0, 2-0 or 3-0 down on the night, will the former Manchester City man be a player who can enter the fray and bag a couple of goals? It’s in his locker, albeit perhaps a couple of assists more likely, but isn’t something you’d bank on either.

If Wijnaldum starts on the bench and things go array, we have already seen that he can come on and change the game in a flash; this could be valuable to Klopp as only Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri are other names who could provoke such a response from his raft of substitutes.

But we also know what we’re getting with Henderson and Fabinho. The former will be playing in a more advanced No.8 role where he will look to make an impact further forward, whilst also keeping things running smoothly in the middle.

Fabinho, on the other hand, will start as a No.6 in defensive midfield, where it is unlikely that he’ll go too far past the halfway line.

In that respect, Klopp must choose someone who can work around this, a player who will hoover up the space that Henderson and Fabinho leave vacant.

Both Milner and Wijnaldum tick the boxes for this role, as they have boundless amounts of stamina. They can help out defensively, they can be trusted in possession and they can support going forward.

Obviously, this extremely tough ultimatum rests at the feet of the former Borussia Dortmund boss, luckily for us.

However, if we were in the dugout inside the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday, we would probably choose Milner in our starting XI just for the sheer bundle of experience he has at his disposal – as well as the fact that Wijnaldum will be needed if Spurs take a stranglehold of the tie.

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