Seven key Liverpool players have made the trip to Qatar with the hope of lifting the World Cup next month.
The Reds are represented across five countries: Jordan Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold are part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad, Fabinho and Alisson make up the Brazilian contingent, Ibrahima Konate is with France while Darwin Nunez joins former Red Luis Suarez with Uruguay, and Virgil Van Dijk will play in his first World Cup with the Netherlands.
Hosts Qatar take on Ecuador in the opening game this Sunday. History will be made in the Al Bayt Stadium as the first Middle Eastern World Cup kicks off.
After a devastating end to Euro 2020, England head into the World Cup as one of the favourites and will look to go one better this time around. A heart-breaking penalty shootout put an end to the nation’s dreams as Italy lifted the trophy.
Southgate has called up Henderson and Alexander-Arnold to his England side despite poor form with Liverpool. Both players bring unique abilities that not many others in the squad possess.
Henderson’s leadership qualities are a factor in his selection after a brilliant few years captaining Jurgen Klopp’s side to numerous trophies. He will be vying with Declan Rice, Jude Bellingham and Conor Gallagher for a starting place. At the very least, his experience will benefit the squad.
Alexander-Arnold’s defensive capabilities have been put under the spotlight this season, with pundits and fans questioning if Southgate would even put him on the plane. Although his defending is questionable, England do not have a better passer of the ball. His attacking qualities are undeniable, and his set-piece play could be the key to unlocking defences.
Despite Roberto Firmino missing out, there was no doubt about Alisson and Fabinho linking up with the Brazil squad. The five-time world champions head into the competition as strong favourites given the quality in their squad. Reaching the final should a minimum.
Fabinho, like his English counterparts, has been in poor from this season and Liverpool have suffered because of it. He is central to the way Klopp’s side operate. If he plays at his best, there aren’t many holding midfielders that can compete with him. His tall frame makes him difficult to beat in the air and he bites into tackles. The attacking Brazilians will be free to play with flair if he starts.
Alisson is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and has proved it yet again this season. His performances for the Reds have been incredible despite others not meeting his standards. His one versus one shot stopping abilities are unmatched, backed up by teammates Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus. If Brazil go on to win the tournament, Alison will play a big part in it.
The current world champions will head to Qatar brimming with confidence after their brilliant win in Russia 2018. The squad looks to have only strengthened, containing world class players in each position and current Ballon D’or winner Karim Benzema.
Didier Deschamps has called up Ibrahima Konate to his squad this winter and it is thoroughly deserved. His 6ft 4inch frame and blistering pace has cemented his place alongside Van Dijk as a starting centre back for Liverpool. However, he is unlikely to start for France given the quality they boast at centre-back but the experience he will gain can only benefit his career.
Despite being viewed as the best centre-back in the world for a number of years, Van Dijk is set to play in his first major international tournament. Injuries kept him out of the Euros and Holland didn’t qualify for Russia 2018.
The Netherlands are a strong side but are not at the level of Brazil, France or Argentina. They will need Van Dijk to be at the top of his game to ensure they go far in the tournament.
The Dutch have dangerous players in attack, but a secure backline is the basis of any top-quality team.
The South American side truly are the dark horses of this World Cup. Players like Luis Suarez, Valverde, Bentancur and Darwin Nunez mean they are a threat to any side in the competition and a team most will hope to avoid.
Nunez’s start to life at Anfield has been a rollercoaster. He started off brilliantly with goals against Manchester City and Fulham before being sent off against Crystal Palace. Recent performances look like he is finding his feet and he will hope to take that confidence with him to Qatar.
Standing at 6ft 2 inches with clinical finishing he provides a real test for defenders. His pace is not to be laughed at either. Nunez can create havoc and that might work to Uruguay’s advantage.