Diogo Jota must start Liverpool’s Champions League clash against Real Madrid – but not necessarily for Roberto Firmino as Sadio Mane could be the man to make way

Liverpool have their biggest test in the Champions League this season as they take on record winners Real Madrid on Tuesday night.

There’s never a good time to face Real Madrid, even if they’re lacking their usual abundance of superstar names, but the Reds will be feeling confident going into the clash.

Liverpool have won their last three matches, keeping clean sheets in all of those matches
AFP

They appear to be getting their season back on track with a 3-0 win at Arsenal resembling the top Liverpool side fans have become accustomed to in recent years.

Liverpool huffed and puffed for long periods but eventually broke the abject Arsenal down as Diogo Jota nodded in Trent Alexander-Arnold’s lovely cross on 64 minutes. Mohamed Salah and Jota added the other two to make it comfortable.

The fact Jota didn’t start at the Emirates Stadium left some Reds fans bemused. However, starting Roberto Firmino instead proved to be a smart decision by Jurgen Klopp as Liverpool’s contingent of Brazilian players weren’t in action during the international break.

But this will be a completely different ball game to an inconsistent Arsenal and Klopp has to give the nod to Jota, who has 12 goals in 22 appearances for Liverpool, for the trip to Madrid.

Jota is already a Liverpool hero and must start against the 13-time European champions
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Chances could be difficult to come by and Klopp will be hoping they fall to Jota, who’s display at Arsenal and this season in general shows he’s Liverpool’s most ruthless finisher.

The logical solution would be to play the Portuguese forward in Firmino’s role, with the no.9’s struggles for form dating back to the middle of last season.

Recalling Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield in place of James Milner, who deserves huge credit for his shift in the middle of the park as well as at left-back against the Gunners, also makes sense.

How Liverpool could line up away to Real Madrid on Tuesday night

However, there’s a way Klopp could fit Jota in without dropping an energised Firmino.

Although he’s not struggled as long as Firmino, Sadio Mane hasn’t been at it either. The Senegal star has netted just twice in his last ten appearances for Liverpool and hasn’t scored in the Premier League since January 28.

Jota has experience playing on the left of Liverpool’s front three and also played on that side at former club Wolves so could come in for Mane.

Jota is viewed as a replacement for Firmino but the two can play together
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Jota can play alongside Firmino but that would likely have to be at Mane’s expense

Listen to full commentary of Real Madrid vs Liverpool LIVE on talkSPORT on Tuesday, kick-off 8pm.

Source: Sport

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