Sunday afternoon sees the 2022 World Cup kick off, with Qatar due to face Ecuador in the tournament opener. With this unprecedented mid-season break now fully underway, it gives a moment to look at the Liverpool players who will be participating in the most controversial of competitions.
Below I’ll be detailing the players with their affiliated countries, as well as some key notes to be aware of.
Alisson Becker – 57 caps / 0 goals (yet)
There seems to be some discussion as to whether Ali or Ederson start in goal, but given the Liverpool No1’s position as the best keeper in the world, it should sort itself out. Could be the difference maker in Brazil’s hopeful run to glory.
Fabinho – 28 caps / 0 goals
Probably acts as an assured and experienced back up, and the lack of game time could be what is required for a strong second half to the season.
Jordan Henderson – 70 caps / 2 goals
With one more international appearance, the Liverpool skipper will match the total amount of games he played for Sunderland. He’ll likely act as a backup in central midfield and dressing room leader.
Trent Alexander Arnold – 17 caps / 0 goals
Amazingly, he’s probably only on the plane due to an injury to Reece James, and will probably start as a backup to Kieran Trippier. You get the sense an opportunity at RWB will see him explode as a final third threat.
Ibrahima Konate – 2 caps / 0 goals
It was unlikely at one point whether he would make the squad, but a later return to fitness coupled with some elite form has seen him called upon. He could be one of the surprises of the tournament if given the chance, but will likely start on the France bench.
Virgil van Dijk – 49 caps / 6 Goals
The world’s premier centre-back could be that leader and colossus that brings glory to the Dutch. He’s perhaps been playing within himself this season, with a clear desire to be ready for this competition. Virgil could be the brilliant difference in Qatar, and make the Netherlands a real force.
Darwin Núñez – 13 caps / 3 goals
Could be the Golden Boot dark horse, and arrives in Qatar in fabulous form. Both his hunger to score goals and his determination to beat opponents could make this South American team a very interesting prospect.
As the above shows, there really aren’t that many players travelling from Liverpool. With so many key players either not picked or not eligible (due to non-qualification), it should make for a much-needed rest and a chance to iron out any tactical problems. Jurgen Klopp must be included in this process, as a step away from his usual duties could be exactly what he himself requires.
The short off-season we recently experienced, came just after the most gruelling of campaigns. With the quadruple chasers competing in every available game during the previous campaign, it very much points to physical and mental burnout for some. Certain players that will spend time in Qatar, will hopefully have a chance to concentrate their minds on international duty. Though many will probably be involved till the latter stages, it may still offer a break from the domestic and European marathons of late.
Though international football isn’t my ideal variety of the sport, I’ll still be keenly watching the boys in their respective games. I’m interested to see how Darwin batters his way through the competition, and curious to see if Konate will be thrust into the French limelight. These young warriors are so raw in their evolution and will want to show the levels we have been seeing these past few weeks.
I’m hoping that the England team (and the red contingent within) do well, and I very much want Trent to prove a point to his doubters. The Liverpool right-back has been hounded from all external avenues this season, but I’m confident that he can prove the critics wrong, and emerge a stronger player.
If I were to pick a few Anfield-based players to really stand out, for me it would be Alisson, Virgil & Núñez. The South American contingent of our squad are so often vital to the success of our club, and I feel that if either carried their recent form into this tournament, it could really make their national team strong contenders for that ultimate success. Virgil is still the world’s best centre half, and maybe this is the moment he solidifies himself as an all-time great, and get back to the form that we know is within.
It’s just a few days till the World Cup begins, and though we wish them all a safe journey and a successful tournament, we pray they come back to us in one piece, and are ready to push the Reds back up the league.
I’ve got some predictions below, which are completely biased, but not at all unlikely.
Golden boot winner – Darwin Núñez
Player of the Tournament – Virgil van Dijk
World Cup Winners – Netherlands