Liverpool will be aiming to lift the FIFA Club World Cup for the first time ever when they take on Brazilian outfit Flamengo in the final in Qatar on Saturday.

Liverpool will be out to make history on Saturday as they look to win their first ever FIFA Club World Cup, when they go head to head against Brazilian giants Flamengo at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha.

Having qualified to the Club World Cup by virtue of their UEFA Champions League success, Liverpool sealed their place in the final of the tournament after securing a dramatic 2-1 victory over Mexican outfit Monterrey in the semi-final earlier this week, courtesy a late Roberto Firmino goal.

Liverpool came close to becoming world champions on three previous occasions, but tasted defeat in the final in 1981 and 1984, back when the competition was still known as Intercontinental Cup, as well as in 2005 under Rafael Benitez. And Jurgen Klopp’s men will be hoping to add this trophy to their cabinet to cap what has been a wonderful year for the club.

Flamengo, like Liverpool, entered the competition at the semi-final stage, having won the Copa Libertadores and went on to defeat Al-Hilal 3-1, to book their place in the final. It was Flamengo who beat the Reds in the 1981 finals and under the guidance of experienced manager Jorge Jesus, they will be hoping to achieve the feat again on Saturday.

Ahead of this enticing fixture coming our way this weekend from Doha, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the teams.

Team News & Tactics

Liverpool

Virgil van Dijk is fit to start on Saturday. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
Virgil van Dijk is fit to start on Saturday. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)

Defensive mainstay Virgil van Dijk missed the semi-final against Monterrey with an illness, but has returned to full training and should return to the side for the final. Georginio Wijnaldum, however, is likely to miss out again on Saturday, while Fabinho, Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren are all ruled out.

Jurgen Klopp is expected to make some changes to the side that started last time out, but he will also have an eye on the crunch clash against Leicester City coming up ahead while selecting his team.

Alisson Becker ought to continue in goal against the club from his homeland, while Trent Alexander-Arnold and van Dijk are likely to return in defence. Joe Gomez and Andrew Robertson will complete the four-man backline for the European champions.

Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson should move into the defensive midfield position, having played as a centre-half against Monterrey. Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are likely to be retained in the middle of the park after their impressive performances in the semi-final, although James Milner as an option should Klopp choose to rotate.

Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane should return to the starting XI after coming on as substitutes last time out, while Mohamed Salah is expected to hold on to his place in the side. Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri will provide options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Keita, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mane

Flamengo

Unlike Liverpool, Flamengo have no injury concerns heading into the Club World Cup final in Doha. Jorge Jesus is unlikely to make any changes to the team that defeated Al-Hilal convincingly in the semi-final earlier in the week.

Former Valencia custodian Diego Alves will man the goal for the Brazilians and will be shielded by a backline comprising of Rodrigo Caio and Pablo Mari as the centre-backs. Rafinha and Filipe Luis, who have previously played for Bayern Munich and Chelsea, respectively, should line up as the full-backs.

Willian Arao and Gerson will occupy the two pivot positions in the centre of the park for Flamengo and look to thwart Liverpool, while the creativity will come from Uruguayan international Giorgian de Arrascaeta, who was on the scoresheet against Al-Hilal.

28-year-old Bruno Henrique will carry the threat from the left flank, while captain Everton Ribeiro will look to create chances from the right wing. Spearheading the attack for Flamengo will be Inter Milan loanee Gabriel Barbosa, who has found his mojo again, after struggling to make a mark during his time in Europe.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Alves; Rafinha, Caio, Mari, Luis; Arao, Gerson; Ribeiro, de Arrascaeta, Henrique; Barbosa

Key Stats

  • This will only be the second time that Liverpool will be facing off against Flamengo. The last time these two teams met was in the 1981 Intercontinental Cup final, when Flamengo beat the Reds 3-0 to lift the trophy.
  • European teams have gone on to win eleven of the fifteen finals of the FIFA Club World Cup since its rebranding, while the remaining four have been won by clubs from South America.
  • Liverpool last appeared in the final of the FIFA Club World Cup in 2005, when they were beaten 1-0 by another Brazilian outfit, Sao Paulo.
  • Since beating River Plate in the Copa Libertadores final, Flamengo have won four of their five matches in all competitions (L1), scoring 16 goals, while letting in 8. They haven’t kept a clean sheet in their last six games.
  • Liverpool have lost just one of their last 21 games across all competitions – a 5-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Carabao Cup earlier this week, where essentially their Under-23 side took the field.

Player to Watch

Gabriel Barbosa

Liverpool will need to be wary of the threat posed by Gabriel Barbosa (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)
Liverpool will need to be wary of the threat posed by Gabriel Barbosa (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE/AFP via Getty Images)

Once tipped as the next big thing coming out of Brazil, Gabriel Barbosa, also known as Gabigol, had to endure a difficult couple of years after completing a high-profile transfer to Inter Milan in 2016. Having struggled to make a mark in Europe, the forward moved back to Brazil in 2018, returning to Santos where he showed signs of returning to his best again.

Barbosa joined Flamengo in January earlier this year and has proved to be a huge success at the club, bagging 34 goals and setting up 11 more in 42 appearances across all competitions. The 23-year-old became a cult hero when he scored two late goals to lead Flamengo to the Copa Libertadores triumph against River Plate.

With his confidence back, Gabigol is showing why he was once at the top of the wishlist of a number of top European clubs. And he will be hoping to make a statement on Saturday by guiding Flamengo to the Club World Cup triumph against Liverpool.

Prediction

Liverpool 2-1 Flamengo

It promises to be a tightly-contested encounter with Flamengo very much capable of holding their own against Liverpool. However, Virgil van Dijk’s return will be a huge boost for the Reds. Moreover, with Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane set to start alongside Mo Salah, a full-strength Liverpool side should be able to hold off the Brazilians to win their first ever Club World Cup.

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