Klopp has 'no clue' if Van Dijk will return for Club World Cup final

By Sports Desk December 18, 2019

Jurgen Klopp has "no clue" whether Virgil van Dijk will be able to overcome illness to feature in Liverpool's Club World Cup final against Flamengo on Saturday.

Van Dijk missed Wednesday's 2-1 semi-final victory over Monterrey, as the Reds needed a stoppage-time winner from substitute Roberto Firmino in Doha.

With Joel Matip and Dejan Lovren already absent through injury, Liverpool deployed captain Jordan Henderson, nominally a central midfielder, in an unfamiliar centre-back berth alongside Joe Gomez.

Those two may have to play together again against Flamengo if Van Dijk cannot return, though Klopp's squad is due to be reinforced by young stars who were beaten 5-0 by Aston Villa in the EFL Cup on Tuesday.

Asked whether Van Dijk would be back for the final, Klopp told BBC Sport: "We have no clue, to be honest.

"We thought when we came here he will be fine for today - he wasn't.

"We'll see, I don't know. We brought now a few kids - Sepp [van den Berg], Ki-Jana Hoever are here, Harvey [Elliott] will come tomorrow. We will see what we can do line up-wise."

Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane all started Wednesday's semi-final on the bench.

However, after Rogelio Funes Mori cancelled out Naby Keita's opener in the first half, the possibility of extra-time loomed for a Liverpool side already facing a gruelling December fixture list.

Thankfully for Klopp and his side, Alexander-Arnold's 91st-minute cross was swept home by Firmino to seal the victory inside normal time.

Klopp was pleased with the performance and also singled out goalkeeper Alisson for praise after he made a string of saves.

"We controlled the game for long periods of time in the first half," Klopp added.

"We played really well for a line-up which is made to control the game, because we had not a lot of defensive players on the pitch, that's the problem.

"Of course, they had their counter attacks. All you need is Alisson Becker in the end. He must be there and he was there in the decisive moments."

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    As the world continues to battle against the coronavirus pandemic, football fans across the globe face another weekend scratching around for something to fill the void.

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    The Opta Predictor estimates the probability of each match outcome (win, draw or loss) given each team's attacking and defensive quality. The team's attacking and defensive qualities are based on four years of historic results, with more weighting given to their most recent results. The model will take into account the quality of the opposition that a team scores or concedes against and reward them accordingly.

    ASTON VILLA v WOLVES

    Home win: 27 per cent
    Draw: 28 per cent
    Away win: 45 per cent

    Struggling Aston Villa were rated as unlikely to get a key victory in their battle against relegation in their scheduled fixture at home to Wolves. A home win is the least likely of the three results, with Villa having lost five straight matches across all competitions. Top-four chasing Wolves have only won five of 14 top-flight away games this season, but are backed to pick up a sixth here.

    BOURNEMOUTH v NEWCASTLE UNITED

    Home win: 39 per cent
    Draw: 29 per cent
    Away win: 32 per cent

    The predictor percentages for this match are all in a very close range across the three results, indicating how hard it would have been to call. Home advantage sees Bournemouth, who sit in the bottom three, rated as narrow favourites, as they were bidding to end a four-match winless run against a Newcastle side sitting five places and eight points above them.

    ARSENAL v NORWICH CITY

    Home win: 67 per cent
    Draw: 21 per cent
    Away win: 12 per cent

    The predictor rated Arsenal versus Norwich City as the most one-sided match of the week, with the Gunners given a massive 67% chance of victory. No other team got over the 50% mark. Three straight wins boosted Mikel Arteta's men prior to the disruptions caused by COVID-19. Meanwhile, bottom-of-the-table Norwich only have one win in 15 away attempts in this season's Premier League.

    BRIGHTON v MANCHESTER UNITED

    Home win: 25 per cent win
    Draw: 29 per cent
    Away win: 46 per cent

    Of the 10 away teams in action, Manchester United were rated as the second-most likely to earn victory in their contest at Brighton and Hove Albion. Prior to the halt in football, United had closed within three points of Chelsea in the race for fourth place, while struggling Brighton are still yet to win a match in 2020.

    CRYSTAL PALACE v BURNLEY

    Home win: 41 per cent
    Draw: 30 per cent
    Away win: 29 per cent

    No game in this match week was rated as more likely to end in a draw than the mid-table battle between Crystal Palace and Burnley at Selhurst Park. Sitting 10th and 11th, Palace and Burnley are level on points and also have the same goal difference, with Sean Dyche's side only ahead in the table due to goals scored. It is Roy Hodgson's hosts who would have gone into the clash with a narrow advantage in win probability.

    WATFORD v SOUTHAMPTON

    Home win: 39 per cent
    Draw: 29 per cent
    Away win: 32 per cent

    Another tight match would have seen Watford host Southampton as Nigel Pearson's side continue their battle against relegation. Playing at home and with a win over Liverpool in their last contest at Vicarage Road, they would have gone in as very slight favourites, but Saints sit seven points better off and this is another that goes down as too close to call. 

    SHEFFIELD UNITED v TOTTENHAM

    Home win: 32 per cent
    Draw: 30 per cent
    Away win: 38 per cent

    A game between two teams chasing a European place, Sheffield United and Tottenham, was the one the predictor had significant trouble calling a winner for. At 30%, it is tied with the Palace v Burnley contest as the most likely draw of the weekend. Interestingly, Spurs – who have not won for six games - do go in with a better chance of victory despite the contest being held at Bramall Lane and Sheffield United, by contrast, being on a six-match unbeaten run.

    WEST HAM v CHELSEA

    Home win: 25 per cent
    Draw: 27 per cent
    Away win: 48 per cent

    Of the 10 away teams, Chelsea are given the best chance of victory in their match on the road against West Ham. Frank Lampard's men thumped Everton 4-0 before the break in action and are given a 48% chance of following that up with a win over their London rivals West Ham, who are on a poor run of one win in 10 games.

    MANCHESTER CITY v LIVERPOOL

    Home win: 46 per cent
    Draw: 27 per cent
    Away win: 27 per cent

    Unquestionably the biggest match of this week was due to be second-placed Manchester City's clash with runaway league leaders Liverpool. After an almost perfect season, Jurgen Klopp's men had finally started to show some vulnerability prior to the suspension of action. They had lost three of their last four games in all competitions and the predictor believes they were most likely to go down to another defeat here, although surely it would not have been enough to derail their title bid.

    EVERTON v LEICESTER CITY

    Home win: 36 per cent
    Draw: 29 per cent
    Away win: 35 per cent

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