FIFA LEAGUES/CUPS

Liverpool consider first start for Thiago in most unlikely of games vs. Lincoln – Liverpool FC


Liverpool could hand Thiago his first start for the club in the most unlikely of backdrops, with the Spaniard in contention for the League Cup third round at Lincoln.

The Reds have typically employed the League Cup to rotate their squad in recent years, with Jurgen Klopp using 62 different players over 16 games in the competition so far.

Klopp is likely to make 11 changes to the side that beat Chelsea last time out as Liverpool head to Sincil Bank, but this opens up the prospect of a strong selection taking to the field regardless.

One of those the manager is weighing up for a start is Thiago, who could make his first full appearance since the Champions League final in the unassuming landscape of Lincolnshire.

Pepijn Lijnders, speaking ahead of Liverpool’s clash with Lincoln, was questioned whether Thiago is ‘too good’ to start in a game like this, a notion he rejected.

“The German competition is like this as well,” he argued.

“A lot of the times if you draw a third division club in Germany, you play away, that’s how they try to help. So he knows these kinds of games, it’s the same.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 20, 2020: Liverpool’s new signing Thiago Alcantara makes his debut as a substitute during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. (Pic by Propaganda)

Thiago came off the bench at half-time at Stamford Bridge and shone immediately, breaking the record for the most passes in a 45-minute showing since records began in the Premier League in 2003.

But interestingly, Lijnders continued to suggest that Liverpool’s clash with Lincoln could give Thiago and his new team-mates a useful opportunity to adjust.

Thiago needs time to understand our game, but we also need to understand and use the skills of Thiago, if that makes sense,” the Dutchman added.

“Because our team, there will different timings, there will be different passes, there will be different dictation of play.

“What I said before is that we have to stay unpredictable, that’s the most important thing, and Thiago gives us the unpredictability from the spine of the pitch.

“We want hopefully 11 players who can play the last pass, and for sure he’s one of the players who can play this last pass.”

LONDON, ENGLAND - Sunday, September 20, 2020: Liverpool’s Thiago Alcantara, makes his debut as a substitute, during the FA Premier League match between Chelsea FC and Liverpool FC at Stamford Bridge. The game was played behind closed doors due to the UK government’s social distancing laws during the Coronavirus COVID-19 Pandemic. Liverpool won 2-0. (Pic by Propaganda)

Following Liverpool’s triumph in the Premier League last season, this is seen as the ideal time for a player like Thiago to slot in, with Lijnders himself attesting to his ability to help the squad evolve.

“This team deserves a player like him. A good team deserves good players, and a good team deserves players who add something,” he added.

“He will add something to our team. Always with signings you have to direct improvements, you put the player into the game and things happen.

“Say you get a new goalkeeper, he will make a save, if you get a striker, he will score. But the indirect development is the most important of signings.

“Because Thiago is so calm, and plays so many creative passes, all the others start playing like this.

“This is the power of the example, the power of models, so that’s the one thing. He will not only improve our game, he will also improve the other players.”

It would be surreal to see a player of Thiago‘s profile make his first start at a stadium that, in normal circumstances, would hold just over 10,000 supporters.

But clearly Lijnders, and by extension Klopp, are not concerned over whether the occasion would be the wrong one for their new No. 6 to step into the side.



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