Jurgen Klopp hopes to face ‘hard decisions’ selecting a team for the second leg of Liverpool’s Europa League quarter-final against Borussia Dortmund, as Daniel Sturridge vies with Divock Origi for a place in the starting XI.
Origi was in the line-up from kick-off and scored as Liverpool earned a 1-1 draw away from home in the first leg at Signal Iduna Park last week, a match that saw Klopp make an emotional return to the club where he won the Bundesliga twice as head coach.
Sturridge replaced Origi in the first team and also hit the back of the net as Stoke City were beaten 4-1 at Anfield in the Premier League on Sunday.
But Origi threatened to steal the show, replacing Sheyi Ojo at half-time and netting two goals of his own to leave Klopp, who could yet choose both forwards, with a welcome selection conundrum.
“If all players play like this then I have to make hard decisions,” the manager said.
“That’s not my hobby but that’s the best thing to do as a manager and hopefully we have to make hard decisions for Thursday.”
James Milner, who set-up Origi’s first against the Potters and the Belgian’s strike in Dortmund, feels the home crowd can give Liverpool a boost as they bid to reach the semi-finals.
“Any player wants to play in the big games and the best atmospheres,” he said.
“European nights at Anfield are definitely right up there with anywhere on the planet.
“That’s going to be massively important for us no matter what happens. Even if the worst happens and they get an early goal, [the fans] can roar us on to get back into the game.
“We managed to nullify their fans – which is a great atmosphere as well – and got a good result. Hopefully we can use our atmosphere.
“It can probably help us more than it can damage them. The fans are always brilliant and hopefully it’s another special European night.”
Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel, clearly prioritising the Liverpool tie, made sweeping changes to his team for the Ruhr derby clash with Schalke in the Bundesliga on Sunday.
Matthias Ginter, the scorer of BVB’s second goal in a 2-2 draw at Veltins-Arena, knows the match on Thursday will be decided by fine margins.
“Liverpool are a very strong team, which was clear from the first leg,” he said.
“It could go either way once more. Of course we hope that it goes our way.”
Dortmund’s only major absentee is Neven Subotic (thrombosis), while Liverpool will be without knee injury victim Jordan Henderson.
Emre Can sat out the Stoke game through suspension but will be free to play against Dortmund. Joe Allen, withdrawn after 60 minutes at Anfield last weekend, has been flagged by Klopp as a likely starter in the Europa League.
Key Opta stats:
-Liverpool have progressed from 11 of the last 12 European ties in which they’ve drawn the first leg away from home, only failing to do so against Celtic in the 2002/03 UEFA Cup.
-Dortmund have been eliminated on five of the six occasions they’ve drawn the first leg of a European tie at home.
-The Reds have never lost at home to German opposition in European competition (W10 D3), conceding just one goal in those 13 games.
-Divock Origi was the ninth player to score for Liverpool in the Europa League this season in the reverse leg. Only Napoli and Lazio (10 each) have had more scorers in the competition this season.
-Dortmund have had more shots (including blocked) than any other team in the Europa League this season (196).
-Only Aritz Aduriz (9) has scored more goals in the Europa League this season than Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
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