A look at Liverpool's players in the Champions League final
LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — A look at Liverpool's players ahead of Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid:
Karius supplanted Simon Mignolet as first-choice goalkeeper at the turn of the year and has kept the spot ever since. The 24-year-old German's handling can be suspect, though he has barely made a mistake in the last five months and manager Juergen Klopp appreciates Karius' ability with his feet.
Alexander-Arnold has broken through this season, initially alternating with Joe Gomez before making the position his own and even forcing his way into England squad for the World Cup. The 19-year-old right back's surging runs down the wing are a feature of Liverpool's attacking play and Alexander-Arnold often takes direct free kicks ahead of the senior members of the team.
Released by Celtic when he was 15, Robertson played for free for Scottish team Queen's Park in 2013-14. He was then relegated from the Premier League with Hull last year. He only broke into the Liverpool team in December following an injury to Alberto Moreno and hasn't looked back, quickly becoming a fan favorite with his work rate and attacking runs.
VIRGIL VAN DIJK
Van Dijk is soccer's most expensive defender after moving from Southampton to Liverpool for $99 million in January. He is a commanding presence at center back, and has brought authority and assuredness to a defense that was widely seen as frail and error-prone. The Dutchman is a threat at corners, too.
Lovren is an oft-criticized center back who acknowledges that he has grown in confidence since playing alongside Van Dijk. He might not have been playing in the final if it wasn't for an injury to Joel Matip, a Klopp signing from the Bundesliga. Real Madrid might choose to target Lovren, who excels in a deeper-lying defense and can look ponderous in a high line.
Henderson is looking to become the fifth Liverpool captain to lift European soccer's biggest prize. He has grown as a leader in his position at the base of the midfield this season, although he hasn't always been assured of his place in the team because of the impressive form of Emre Can. Henderson works hard and keeps it simple with his passing.
Wijnaldum is another who is in the team because of recent injuries to others, chiefly Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Emre Can. Yet he is selfless and an unsung hero, rarely letting Liverpool down and often popping up with important goals — almost always at Anfield.
Known for his work rate, tirelessness and versatility, Milner has become an unlikely assist-maker in Liverpool's run to the Champions League final, setting up a competition-high nine goals. Far from the most glamorous player in the team but one of the most important.
Salah is having the season of his career, with 44 goals in 51 games, and could yet win the Ballon d'Or if he guides Liverpool to the Champions League title. The Egypt forward has an uncanny calmness in front of goal, with his chipped finishes or curling shots into the far corner becoming his trademark. He is positioned on the right of the front three, but is often found centrally and the furthest forward.
Firmino sets the tone for the pressing game that Klopp demands and is often seen harassing opposition defenders and midfielders, winning the ball back. But the Brazilian has added goals — a career-high 27 in all competitions this season — to his game, making him a brilliant all-round striker. Firmino often drops deep to help out his midfield when Liverpool is under pressure.
Mane has often gone under the radar this season because of the prolific scoring of Salah and the all-around improvement of Firmino, but he has come into form in the final months of the season. Expect the unexpected with Mane, who can miss easy chances and give the ball away cheaply, then explode into the game with goals and dangerous runs.