The 2017/18 season was a rather successful one for Liverpool. Not only did the Reds finish fourth in the league, but they also made it to the Champions League final. One of the greatest achievements to inspire hope for next season is the fact that they toppled the Premier League-dominating Manchester City twice in the Champions League and at Anfield in the league. But, first, there’s the small matter of the 2018 World Cup in Russia to enjoy.
As a top-class team, Liverpool have many star players going to the World Cup but the three who stood out during the domestic season are the three who are set to impress the most in the international tournament. Saido Mane and Roberto Firmino could be star players for their teams, while Mohamed Salah could return as his nation’s saviour.
Firmino could lead the line for Brazil
By the looks of things, Brazil are going to have one of the best, if not the best, squads in the World Cup. They boast a strong defence, solid goalkeeping, a midfield that can be packed with hard workers and playmakers, and a very enviable attack. Headlining the attack will be ex-Liverpool star Philippe Coutinho, Gabriel Jesus, Willian, Taison, Neymar, and Roberto Firmino.
It is not yet clear how Brazil are going to set up for their first game. Against Croatia in the June 3rd friendly at Anfield, they played 4-1-4-1 with Jesus leading the line and Willian and Coutinho on the wings. The three central midfielders are very defensively-inclined – Paulinho, Fernandinho, and Casemiro – which isn’t how Brazil are expected to set up. So, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coutinho take a central role with Neymar and Jesus either side of Firmino – who came on to score in that friendly. Then again, despite his form this season, Firmino has been limited to cameo roles for his country.
Firmino’s style of play draws defenders and creates holes in the defence, giving his wingers more opportunities to get in the box and score – as he did this season with Salah and Mane. On top of this, he’s quite the clinical scorer himself. Even in a limited capacity, he could still have a big impact.
Mane’s the main man for Senegal
Before this tournament, the only time that Senegal had made it to the World Cup was in 2002, when they made it to the quarter-finals. The team boasted names like Papa Bouba Diop, Aliou Cisse, Henri Camara, and El Hadji Diouf, but there’s a greater feeling of hope around the 2018 batch.
With the commanding presence of Kalidou Koulibaly at centre-back, Idrisa Gueye dominating the midfield, and Sadio Mane ready to pounce up top, Senegal look to have the makings of a bogey team this year. In a tight-knit group of Poland, Colombia, and Japan, Senegal could very well muscle their way out. In the World Cup Betting, Senegal are 4/1 to escape with Colombia and 6/1 to escape with Poland.
Sadio Mane looks to be their main attacking threat and, as he showed against Real Madrid in the Champions League final, it’s very difficult to keep the pacey winger quiet.
Salah could still star for Egypt
The Champions League final ended early for Mohamed Salah as he sustained a shoulder injury. Luckily for football fans, the flamboyant winger has been making good progress in his rehabilitation and has been called up by Egypt.
The thinking is that Salah won’t be out for more than three weeks, as of June 3rd, which would put him in line to play in Egypt’s final group stage game, against Saudi Arabia. Unfortunately, the crucial game is their second, against Russia. A win against Russia could see them usurp the favoured team to go through, as they’re expected to defeat Saudi Arabia. Having Salah on the field five days earlier, on June 19th, could propel Egypt to a glorious campaign.
As was the case during the domestic season, the Liverpool players set to shine on the international stage are Roberto Firmino, Saido Mane, and quite possibly Mohamed Salah as well.
“Unbelievable deft skill” – Some Liverpool fans in awe of star’s brilliant skill from Napoli win
Liverpool beat Napoli to qualify for the knockout round of the Champions League, and there were some great performances at Anfield on Tuesday.
Mohamed Salah, Alisson, Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk were excellent while we also saw Roberto Firmino have one of his better games this season.
The Reds played with the Brazilian leading the attack and Firmino had one moment that caught the eye of several fans in the game.
We have seen Bobby come up with no look goals, passes and nutmegs but he has taken it to another level with a reverse back-heel.
The awareness. The deft touch.
— UEFA Champions League (@ChampionsLeague) December 11, 2018
The Liverpool star needs to be at his best for the upcoming game against Manchester United, but we can be sure of him trying some tricks against the Red Devils on Sunday.
Some Liverpool fans certainly loved this bit against Napoli, and here are their reactions from Twitter.
Where’s Insigne? And Mertens and Carlo I thought Anfield was easy for Naples
— (@BallerShaqiri) December 11, 2018
— doubled25377 (@doubled25031977) December 12, 2018
— (@fredericrhea) December 11, 2018
Can you please edit and add no look skill for him?
— #KIZOZO_KOP (@Jackmen_00) December 12, 2018
He does that effortlessly
— Jamie (@jamiekop227) December 11, 2018
— Chao Zedon (@ChaoZedon) December 12, 2018
more solid than Neymar
— the flippety flip (@wwjoehd) December 12, 2018
— Emmanuel Truth (@ema_truth) December 12, 2018
— fiifi⚡finale♔ (@acquaye165) December 12, 2018
“Hopefully they can win the Premier League” – Former Liverpool star urges club to break Premier League duck
Former Liverpool striker Fernando Torres is supporting the Reds for the Premier League title. The Anfield club are unbeaten after 12 games and are a couple of points ahead of Chelsea after Sunday’s games.
Manchester City could leapfrog the Reds with a win over Manchester United, and Torres was speaking about his time playing for both Chelsea and Liverpool.
The Spaniard was exceptional for the Reds but joined Chelsea in 2011. Torres won numerous titles with the Blues but missed out on the Premier League title.
Speaking to Sky Sports, the former Atletico Madrid star added that he had a lot of fun playing for Liverpool.
“I have feelings for both of them. Liverpool was the best time in my career – I love the city, the supporters and the club.
“I am still in touch with them and they made me feel at home when I was there.”
The Spaniard spoke about how he had a great time at Chelsea winning titles and hoped the Reds pick up the title this season as we have never picked up the Premier League crown.
“I know how important it is for Liverpool to win the Premier League.
“Hopefully they can win the Premier League and Chelsea can win it the year after.”
This has been an incredible start to the season for the Reds, and hopefully, we can create history under Jurgen Klopp.
Liverpool Remain Challengers but Reinforcements may be Needed
Liverpool made a stunning start to the 2018/19 season with six straight Premier League wins, while the icing on the cake was a thrilling 3-2 Champions League victory against Paris Saint-Germain – a fantastic way to get the Reds’ European campaign up and running.
Elimination from the EFL Cup by Chelsea at Anfield, followed by a Premier League draw against the Blues just a few days later, made for a disappointing end to September. After the frustrating Champions League defeat at Napoli to start October, fans and pundits alike are wondering whether further signings are needed to strengthen the squad.
Despite hitting a few bumps in the road of late, Liverpool remain the outright betting favourites at MoPlay to challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title at 9/4. The two met for the first time this season on Sunday, playing out a goalless draw which keeps the unbeaten pair together on 20 points with eight games played.
If the Reds don’t get back to winning ways, and quickly, questions will inevitably continue to be raised. Likewise, the gossip columns are already suggesting that despite an excellent summer of transfer activity, this squad still isn’t the finished article and additional reinforcements are needed, if the team is to genuinely challenge for silverware this season.
One potential transfer target doing the rounds again is Brazilian left-back Alex Telles, who was already linked in June and was even mentioned in the Media Watch section of the official Liverpool website, after various outlets had published rumours suggesting he was destined for a move to Anfield.
Although no deal was eventually concluded before the summer transfer window slammed shut, 25-year-old Telles apparently remains a target thanks to his outstanding performances at FC Porto, consistently clocking up the highest match ratings for his team this season, both on the domestic front in the Portuguese league and in the Champions League.
Indeed, Telles produced a man-of-the-match display that will undoubtedly have interested Liverpool officials, who were reportedly in attendance as FC Porto beat Galatasaray 1-0 in the Champions League, weighing up the possibility of making a €40 million swoop when the January transfer window opens.
Liverpool are hardly lacking when it comes to left-back options, though a move for Telles is regarded as one which will provide stiff competition for Andrew Robertson, who has been excellent since his arrival from Hull City in 2017.
James Milner showed great versatility to deputise last season in the same position, although he has since returned to playing in his more natural midfield roles. Meanwhile, Alberto Moreno has continued to see his opportunities diminish under Jurgen Klopp and hasn’t played a single minute this season.
As such, 26-year-old Moreno has already been tipped for a return to Spain, reports recently linking Barcelona with interest in a January move that could revive his career, as they seek additional left-back cover for Jordi Alba. Such a move would undoubtedly pave the way for Liverpool to solidify their interest in FC Porto star Telles.
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