Liverpool supporters in the Transfer Tavern are eagerly anticipating the Champions League final on Saturday, with their team going in search of a sixth European crown in Kiev against defending champions Real Madrid.
Jurgen Klopp’s men only returned to Europe’s elite competition this season after a few years in the wilderness, but they have certainly proven their worth with knockout stage victories over Porto, Manchester City, and Roma to reach Saturday’s showpiece. Yet the Merseyside giants know full well that they will have to be at their best against Zinedine Zidane’s Real, who are bidding for a third successive Champions League title in the Ukrainian capital this weekend.
And one big decision Liverpool chief Klopp will have to make in the hours leading up to Saturday’s final is whether or not to re-instate midfielder Emre Can to the starting line-up, what with the German reportedly fit to play a part in Kiev.
The 24-year-old, who looks set to leave the club this summer at the expiration of his contract, hasn’t featured for the Reds since March due to a back problem, and as such it would surely be a huge risk to start him against the Spanish giants on Saturday.
As such, Klopp simply must resist the urge to recall the Germany international, as James Milner has certainly earned his place in the starting eleven after a sensational few months of form for the Reds.
The former England international began the season on the peripheries of the action but has slowly but surely become a more integral member of Klopp’s team, to the point that he started all six of their knockout stage matches en route to Saturday’s final.
And given what the 32-year-old offers the side in terms of defensive contribution and work-ethic, he simply must start against Zidane’s men on Saturday, as Liverpool will need his leadership qualities and work-rate in the middle of the park in a bid to try and dominate the game.
Add in his incredible tally of seven assists in the Champions League this season, and the Englishman also provides something going forward as well, while his commitment to the cause in throwing himself into tackles and in front of shots is exactly what Liverpool fans will want to see on Saturday.
And with Can clearly wanting out this summer to seemingly seek bigger and better things, it’s debatable whether Klopp would get that same level of commitment from the German.
Ultimately, Milner has been outstanding in the last few months in helping Liverpool reach the final on Saturday – that itself suggests that he deserves to get the nod against Real.
Significantly though, he would arguably bring a great deal more to the midfield, both defensively and offensively, than 24-year-old Can, who will undoubtedly be lacking in match practice after two months out with injury.
As such, Klopp must resist the urge to take a huge risk by starting Can, and instead stick with the reliable and dependable Milner in Kiev this weekend.
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