Predicted Liverpool lineup against Villarreal: Diaz in for Jota; Henderson to return

Luis Diaz and Jordan Henderson will return, but Diogo Jota will drop to the bench when Liverpool and Villarreal face off in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Liverpool will look to close in on sealing a spot in the UEFA Champions League final when they play hosts to Villarreal in the semi-final first leg at Anfield on Wednesday night. And Jurgen Klopp has a near-full strength squad at his disposal ahead of his side’s latest fixture.

Roberto Firmino is the only player who will likely miss out against Villarreal, just as he did this past weekend in the Merseyside derby versus Everton. Otherwise, Klopp has all his resources available for the midweek fixture. The Liverpool boss provided an update on Firmino during his pre-match press conference.

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“I don’t think [he is ready] yet. He is running outside and that’s good, obviously, but I am not sure. Maybe somebody will surprise me afterwards and tell me, ‘Yes, Bobby is in.’ [I will have] open arms, but I don’t think so. Apart from that, no [new injuries] that I know yet.”

In Firmino’s continued absence, Diogo Jota and Sadio Mane will contest for the central striker’s berth, with the latter likely to get the nod against Villarreal. Jota will make way for Luis Diaz, who will take up the position on the left flank, with Mohamed Salah a surefire inclusion on the right wing.

Alisson Becker is an automatic pick at the opposite end in the Liverpool goal, with a back four protecting him. Ibrahima Konate will likely replace Joel Matip as Virgil van Dijk’s partner at the heart of the Liverpool defence, with Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson being the two full-backs.

Up ahead in midfield, Naby Keita should make way for Jordan Henderson after an unconvincing performance against Everton. Henderson will line up alongside Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara in the middle of the park, with Keita, Curtis Jones and James Milner being backup midfield options. As for the attacking players on the bench, Klopp will have Jota and Divock Origi at his disposal.

Predicted Liverpool XI: Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Mane, Diaz

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