Thiago Alcantara is still weeks away from a return for Liverpool, Jurgen Klopp confirmed yesterday as he pinpointed a bad-tempered Merseyside derby against Everton last month as the root cause of his side’s injury crisis.
Virgil van Dijk suffered knee ligament damage from a wild challenge from Everton goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, which is likely to rule the Dutch defender out for the rest of the season. Thiago, who has made just two appearances for Liverpool since a September move from Bayern Munich, was then injured by another dangerous challenge from Richarlison, which earned the Brazilian a red card.
Initial scans showed the Spanish midfielder did not suffer the same degree of damage as Van Dijk, but he has not played since. “On that day when Thiago got injured in that challenge in the Everton game, there was another bad injury and after the scans one was really bad news, one was really good news because nothing was broken or ruptured,” Klopp said.
“But the impact on the leg was that big that it is still not ok. He trains from time to time, not in the moment, we just have to go through further steps. I can’t say exactly when he will be fine, but it will take a few weeks still with Thiago.”
Klopp will also be without Joe Gomez, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita, Xherdan Shaqiri, Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner for today’s Champions League clash against Ajax. The German has complained of a brutal schedule and the decision not to allow five substitutes in the Premier League for not protecting player welfare.
But he also turned on Liverpool’s local rivals as the two impact injuries suffered against Everton on October 17 have led to more muscle injuries from an accumulation of minutes by other players.
Van Dijk faces many more months on the sidelines, but Klopp offered an update on his recovery. “Considering the circumstances he’s doing really well,” said Klopp. “His knee doesn’t look good, it doesn’t look like a knee should look, but it looks good for a knee with that surgery in the time he had since the surgery. He’s doing well.”
Bayern rest Lewandowski, Neuer for trip to Atletico
Bayern Munich, assured of a place in the knockout rounds of the Champions League, left several regulars, including Robert Lewandowski and Manuel Neuer, behind yesterday when they travelled to Madrid to face Atletico.
In addition to star striker Lewandowski and club captain and goalkeeper Neuer, midfielders Leon Goretzka and Corentin Tolisso will remain in Munich. Coach Hansi Flick said Tolisso was not fully fit but might be back to face RB Leipzig at the weekend. “Everyone else is in the squad,” Flick said adding that he would make decisions on the starting line-up ahead of the game. “I’ll wait until tomorrow and then go through who’s in a good mood. Then we’ll see who’s playing.”
Flick said defender Niklas Suele, who returned from coronavirus quarantine with 32 minutes off the bench against Stuttgart on Saturday, might start. Flick said he was not worried about fielding a less-experienced team in Madrid. “Playing against Atletico, especially as a young player, is a great experience. You should enjoy it,” he said.
Bayern have not lost in the Champions League since March 2019 and have won their last 15 games in the competition. He said Alexander Nubel would start in goal while Neuer rested.
Champions League fixtures
GROUP A: Lokomotiv Moscow vs FC Red Bull Salzburg; Atletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich
GROUP B: Shakhtar Donetsk vs Real Madrid; Borussia Monchengladbach vs Inter Milan
GROUP C: FC Porto vs Manchester City; Marseille vs Olympiakos
GROUP D: Atalanta vs FC Midtjylland; Liverpool vs Ajax
Juergen Klopp. (Reuters)
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