Rio Ferdinand tells Jurgen Klopp defensive shake-up may cause Liverpool tension – ‘Fuming’

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Rio Ferdinand claims Liverpool defender Joel Matip will be “fuming” to have been left out of the starting XI against Villarreal on Wednesday. Ibrahima Konate was preferred in the centre of defence alongside Virgil van Dijk and Ferdinand reckons the decision could cause tension in the Reds dressing room.

Matip has been the preferred partner for Van Dijk in the Premier League this term. The 30-year-old has started 27 of Liverpool’s league matches.

However, he and Konate have shared duties in the Champions League. Konate will make his sixth start in the competition this term in the first leg of the semi-final against Villarreal.

Ferdinand says Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will have to deal with an upset Matip. But he claims the presence of Konate will help the Reds at set-pieces.

Ferdinand said on BT Sport: “If I am Joel Matip, I am fuming. He has been exceptional all season and we talk about being the best defenders on form in the league, he would be in there for a shout after (Virgil) Van Dijk.

“So yeah set-pieces must be a big thing for his team selection this evening.” Konate has scored on his last two European appearances and Ferdinand added: “I think the most impressive thing for me is the way [Klopp] has been able to utilise his squad.

“Just shuffling the back at any given time, and those players are coming in and impacting the team. They are playing big roles in that, Konate is a good example for that, he has come in and scored goal after goal, and as a manager it is a dream scenario at the business end of the season.”

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Former Liverpool striker Michael Owen also believes Konate’s goalscoring exploits helped him get the nod over Matip at Anfield. Owen said: “It is a Champions League semi-final so of course you are going to play your best team, but I think Matip all season has been number one all season, but I think the goals that Konate has scored in the past few games, he does add something different.”

Meanwhile, Peter Crouch claims Klopp fielded his strongest XI apart from Matip being left out. Crouch said: “I think it is their strongest team, I think the only position you could argue is between Matip and Konate.

“But he has brought in (Jordan) Henderson for (Naby) Keita, and (Luis) Diaz, for (Diogo) Jota and I think for me that is the strongest squad available. The reason I think Konate has been brought in is for his dominance aerially at set pieces and he as proved to be dangerous at set-pieces in previous rounds and that can be an influence on these games.”

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