Venue – Khalifa International Stadium, Doha, Qatar
Date & Time – Saturday, December 21st @ 17:30 UK time
Current Odds – Liverpool 4/7, Draw 16/5, Flamengo 17/4
Jurgen Klopp is just 90 minutes away from becoming the first Liverpool manager to lead the club to a Club World Cup title. This team just loves carving its own story in the history books and Saturday evening is another opportunity for the Redmen to do just that.
A makeshift Liverpool lineup had enough to overcome Monterrey in Wednesday’s semi-final in Doha. The Reds turned the screw late on with Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Trent Alexander-Arnold all coming off the bench to make a big impact in the game. Alexander-Arnold’s composed pass into the box was subtly finished by Firmino in the dying moments of the game.
Naby Keita, Alisson Becker and Mohamed Salah had also been particularly impressive throughout the Monterrey fixture. Salah’s fantastic reverse ball was calmly put away by Keita giving Liverpool an early lead. Rogelio Funes Mori did equalise for Monterrey just two minutes later but Alisson kept them at bay after that, pulling off a string of important saves.
Before arriving in Qatar, Flamengo were crowned Brasileiro Serie A champions, winning the title with a 16-point lead ahead of Santos and Palmeiras.
Last Tuesday, Flamengo came from a goal down at half-time against Al-Hilal Saudi to blow them away in the second half, running out 3-1 winners in the end.
Liverpool Team News
Gini Wijnaldum may not be risked on Saturday since he is only now recovered from his muscle injury. It’s doubtful that he will start.
Virgil van Dijk was ill for the semi-final on Wednesday, meaning Jordan Henderson had to deputise at centre-back. I think Van Dijk will start in Saturday’s final. James Milner didn’t play the full 90 minutes against Monterrey so expect him to give Andrew Robertson a rest at left-back. Trent Alexander-Arnold could come in to start at right-back.
The midfield should be Jordan Henderson, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Adam Lallana and possibly Wijnaldum coming in to play a part off the bench.
In attack, expect Mohamed Salah to be on the bench while Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mané get their chance to start in Qatar.
Flamengo Team News
Flamengo, coached by the former Benfica and Sporting Lisbon manager, Jorge Jesus, usually set up in a 4-2-3-1 formation. They used this again in Tuesday’s semi-final victory over Al-Hilal Saudi.
Some players you may know and others to watch from the Valencia squad include:
- Diego Alves – veteran goalkeeper who spent ten years in LaLiga, first with Almeria and then at Valencia
- Filipe Luis – left-back who played for Atletico Madrid and also had a short stint with Chelsea
- Rafinha – full-back who played with Bayern Munich for eight years
- Diego – midfield playmaker most noted for his spells with Werder Bremen and Wolfsburg
- Bruno Henrique – explosive forward operating mainly from the left-wing recently
- Everton Ribeiro – normally operates on the right of three attacking midfielders
- Giorgian De Arrascaeta – classic no. 10 – 25-year-old Uruguayan international
- Gabriel Barbosa – powerful striker who is finding his form again in his homeland after a big-money move to Internazionale in 2016 never really worked out for him
Liverpool XI (4-3-3) – Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Milner; Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita; Shaqiri, Firmino, Mané
Flamengo XI (4-2-3-1) – Alves; Rafinha, Caio, Mari, Luis; Arao, Gerson; Everton, De Arrascaeta, Henrique; Barbosa
When they last met
Flamengo and Liverpool played one game previously, way back in 1981. It was an earlier iteration of this Club World Cup – what was called the Intercontinental Cup at the time. Flamengo – with a lineup containing Brazilian great, Zico – ran out 3-0 winners over The Reds in Tokyo.
LIVERPOOL 2 – 1 FLAMENGO
This game could be a little feisty so I’d be happy for Jurgen Klopp’s squad to return to Merseyside with no new injury problems. However, we’ve come to see over recent years that if there’s one thing this team doesn’t shy away from, it’s a battle. Klopp’s ‘Mentality Monsters’ may need to draw on everything they’ve got to win the Club World Cup on Saturday and I think they will. It will be a gritty encounter but I’m expecting Liverpool to win what should be a tight game.