Unsung Liverpool hero praised by former Red and tipped for starting place in Champions League final: Joel Matip’s form has earned him starting place in Madrid according to Mark Lawrenson

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Former Liverpool and Ireland defender Mark Lawrenson believes that Joel Matip will keep his starting place alongside Virgil van Dijk for the Champions League final in Madrid on June 1st.

Matip had been used sparingly last season due to consistent injury problems for the former Cameroonian international. This season, Joe Gomez had cemented his place in central defence with Van Dijk before disaster struck at Burnley in early December.

Gomez suffered a leg fracture at Turf Moor in Liverpool’s 3-1 win over Sean Dyche’s side. With Gomez out and Dejan Lovren also picking up an injury during the same period all eyes were on Matip to plug the gap in Liverpool’s defence.

The former Schalke man stepped up to the plate and he hasn’t looked back since. Matip, himself, had broken his collarbone in December but after his return to action in January the player hasn’t missed a game because of injury since.

Lawrenson, speaking to Liverpoolfc.com, was asked if he felt Matip would start Liverpool’s upcoming Champions League final against Spurs in Madrid.

“It would be tough on Matip [to not start the final]. He has been really, really good – and not just defensively.

“He has been a bonus because he has been coming out with the ball and committing opposition midfield players. If you’re a midfield player in that team, you’re looking at that and thinking it’s great because he’s giving you a little bit more room to play.

“I think it’ll be Joel Matip and Virgil van Dijk [in the final], I can’t see any other combination.”

Matip is currently with the rest of The Reds squad at their warm-weather training camp in Marbella for the next six days.

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