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Team news, key battles and more: A detailed preview ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Flamengo

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Liverpool set to face Flamengo in highly-anticipated Club World

European teams are not always known to take the Club World Cup seriously. There is a belief in many circles that the competition is just a glorified friendly.

The contrast couldn’t be starker in South America, where teams compete with pride and view it as an opportunity to teach their European counterparts a lesson.

The Liverpool players and fans might beg to differ. They have not only given the competition the respect it deserves but also sacrificed the League Cup in order to focus on this competition.

Liverpool have won 42 major trophies in their illustrious history but are yet to bag a Club World Cup or Intercontinental Cup as it was known.

If that wasn’t motivation enough, Liverpool will be facing Brazilian side Flamengo, who taught the Reds a footballing lesson when they last met in the Intercontinental Cup in 1981. Liverpool lost 3-0 that day.

That victory has been immortalized into a song ‘Em Dezembro de 81’, which is still sung by Flamengo supporters to this day.

The Merseysiders are the favourites going into the match and as long as they turn up in the finals, they will be expected to overcome the Copa Libertadores Champions.

Team News

Liverpool

The Reds will be buoyed by the news of Virgil van Dijk returning to training after missing the semi-finals against Monterrey due to illness. His international teammate Gini Wijnaldum looks likely to miss out once again after failing to recover from his injury.

Virgil van Dijk has resumed training a day before the final

Liverpool are still without Joel Matip, Dejan Lovren and Fabinho, all of whom are sidelined until the new year.

Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold are expected to start this game after being rested for the majority of the semifinals.

Flamengo

Flamengo have no injury concerns to worry about and go into the final with a full-strength squad.

Predicted XI

Liverpool

Alisson Becker, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk, Andrew Robertson, Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita, James Milner, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah

Flamengo

Diego Alves, Rafinha, Rodrigo Caio, Pablo Mari, Felipe Luis, Willian Arao, Éverton Ribeiro, Gerson, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, Bruno Henrique, Gabriel Barbosa

Key Battles

Sadio Mane vs Rafinha

Senegalese winger Sadio Mane has been in stellar form for Liverpool, scoring 13 and assisting 6 in 24 appearances this season. Veteran right-back Rafinha will find his hands full in trying to stop him and match Mane’s pace.

The Liverpool winger has stepped up for the Reds and if he gets the better of Rafinha, it could also open up space for Robertson with the left flank turning into an outlet of chances for the Merseysiders.

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Éverton Ribeiro vs Andrew Robertson

Winning control over the left flank would be the key to controlling the tie for Liverpool. With Rafinha having to face Sadio Mane, Everton may have to track back which will give Robertson more space to move into.

Andrew Robertson

By dominating the left flank, Liverpool may draw Giorgian De Arrascaeta to the left. This would nullify his effect in the centre of the pitch, cutting off service to Gabigol.

The lack of service, coupled with having to contend with Van Dijk, could nullify the Flamengo attack immensely.

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3-goal League One starlet expresses shock at being linked with Liverpool

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Coventry City defender Sam McCallum shocked by Liverpool interest

Coventry City defender Sam McCallum has expressed his shock at being linked with a move to European champions Liverpool. (h/t Mirror)

The youngster has impressed at Coventry this season. He has made 21 appearances and has scored 3 goals for the League One side. (h/t Whoscored)

The defender was happy at the links but dismissed the chances of the transfer going through. Championship leaders Leeds United are also interested in the player.

Sam McCallum

The defender, who primarily plays as a left-back, is also adept on the other flank. He has made 32 appearances for the Sky Blues since being signed from Herne Bay in 2017.

Liverpool are in the market for a back-up to Andrew Robertson. Given the club’s focus on signing exciting young talent, it comes as no surprise that McCallum is one of the names under consideration.

The Reds secured the services of Harvey Elliott and Sepp van den Berg in the summer as the club look to build upon an era of continued success

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Jurgen Klopp will not sell any first-team players this January
Liverpool enquire about ‘the new Andrea Pirlo’ Sandro Tonali
Liverpool to recall striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Mainz loan

The Reds have so far signed Takumi Minamino and Joe Hardy in the January transfer window. Minamino will add much-needed quality in depth to the first team whereas Hardy has been placed in the Liverpool reserves.

Hardy scored twice on his Liverpool Under-23 debut in the 5-0 victory over Southampton Under-23s.

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Liverpool’s Champions League hero linked with move to join PL rivals

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Divock Origi

Wolverhampton Wanderers are interested in Divock Origi

Liverpool striker Divock Origi has emerged as a transfer target for Wolverhampton Wanderers. (h/t Liverpool Echo)

The Belgian international joined the Reds from Lille in 2014. He has established himself as a cult hero following his Champions League heroics against Barcelona and Tottenham last season.

Origi has made 26 appearances for Liverpool this season, with the majority of them coming off the bench. The striker has scored 5 goals and 1 assist so far this season. (h/t Whoscored)

divock origi

Wolves are currently 7th in the English Premier League and look set to qualify for the Europa League next season. They can also consider themselves to have an outside chance of finishing top four if things go their way.

Raul Jimenez has established himself as the first-choice striker. The addition of Origi will add another effective threat to a free-flowing Wolves team as they look to climb up the table.

Origi stepped up for Liverpool numerous times last season. His winners against Everton and Newcastle coupled with his performances against Barcelona and Tottenham will live long in Reds folklore.

The striker scored a last-minute equalizer against Arsenal in the Carabao Cup this season as Liverpool went on to win the match on penalties.

The 24-year-old has made 125 appearances for Liverpool and has scored 33 goals. (h/t Whoscored)

More Liverpool News

Jurgen Klopp will not sell any first-team players this January
Liverpool enquire about ‘the new Andrea Pirlo’ Sandro Tonali
Liverpool to recall striker Taiwo Awoniyi from Mainz loan

Origi has proved himself to be a dependable player for Klopp to call on and is unlikely to leave the club this January.

Jurgen Klopp has already stated that no first-team players will be sold this month as Liverpool chase a first league title in 30 years.

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Klopp rules out potential transfer moves for Liverpool first-team stars

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Jurgen Klopp will not sell any first-team players this January

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will not let any first-team players leave the club in the January transfer window. (h/t Express)

Liverpool sit pretty at the top of the Premier League and have a 14 point gap over second-placed Manchester City with a game in hand.

The Reds have been busy in the January transfer window and have already brought in Japanese playmaker Takumi Minamino and Brentford youngster Joe Hardy. The likes of Rhian Brewster, Herbie Kane, Isaac Christie-Davis have all left on loan this month.

Xherdan Shaqiri and Jurgen Klopp

Liverpool have reportedly received inquiries regarding squad players Dejan Lovren and Xherdan Shaqiri.

Klopp will not sanction any sales this month. The German wants to keep his first-team together until the end of the season.

Liverpool are currently involved in three competitions and had only recently been stretched to the limit by injuries to key personnel. With the club looking on course to breaking the title drought, Klopp will need every player to step and be counted when required.

Liverpool are a well-drilled team that have picked up the habit of being serial winners. With the team looking on course for the Premiership, it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to quit the team this January.

Italian giants AS Roma are keen to bring in Xherdan Xhaqiri for the injured Nicolo Zaniolo while backup center back Dejan Lovren too has been attracting attention from Roma and AC Milan.

After Klopp’s comments, it is safe to say that neither player will be going anywhere.At least until the summer.

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Liverpool could make club-record £125million bid for Kai Havertz
Paul Robinson urges West Ham United to sign Nathaniel Clyne

Liverpool need 35 points in our last 17 matches to guarantee our first league title in 30 years. The Reds next face arch-rivals Manchester United who are currently in the 5tgh spot.

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