Liverpool faces Borussia Dortmund on Thursday night in the first of two Europa League quarter-final ties. Jurgen Klopp returns to his former club in what promises to be a mouth-watering contest by on and off the pitch. Dortmund has established themselves as one of Europe’s top sides and the German side dismantled Tottenham in the last round. Liverpool knocked out bitter rivals, Manchester United, to progress to the last eight.
Transfer rumours began as soon as Klopp arrived at Anfield regarding the signings he could bring from his former club such as Marco Reus and Ilkay Gundogan. The Reds would definitely benefit from a few of Dortmund’s players but what would a combined Liverpool/Dortmund starting eleven look like?
Goalkeeper – Roman Burki (Borussia Dortmund)
The goalkeeping position was a no contest. Simon Mignolet has come intense scrutiny for some terrible performances this season. Although the Belgian is a fantastic shot-stopper, he is not good enough to be Liverpool’s number one and replacement options are reportedly being assessed by the club.
On the other hand, Borussia Dortmund keeper Roman Burki has won his place between the sticks from veteran goalkeeper Roman Weidenfeller. Burki beats Mignolet hands down when it comes to stats comparison. The Swiss keeper has kept 10 cleans sheets this season compared the Belgian’s nine. Mignolet has conceded 11 more goals than the Dortmund keeper in the league this season. Burki also has a distribution accuracy of 76% which is higher than Mignolet, Thibaut Courtois, and David de Gea. Burki gets the nod in our combined XI.
Right Back – Lukasz Piszczek (Borussia Dortmund)
Former Southampton defender, Nathaniel Clyne, is beaten in our combined XI by offensive-minded full-back Lukasz Piszczek. Although Clyne is a more defensive-orientated right back, Piszczek gets the nod at the back. Liverpool’s £12m summer signing has made a steady start to life at Anfield who can find relief that they have a solid defensive option on the right; unlike Glen Johnson. Dortmund’s Polish defender has established himself as one of the world’s best right-backs in recent seasons.
Clyne has played over 1800 more minutes than the Pole but it is the Dortmund man who comes out on top. Piszczek has made an average of 2.53 interceptions per game compared to Clyne’s 1.72. Also, Piszczek has made more blocks and clearances on average than the English defender. Liverpool’s defender is yet to register an assist for the club yet Piszczek has one assist to his name this campaign.
Centre Back – Dejan Lovren (Liverpool)
Finally, a Liverpool player makes the list. Croatian defender, Dejan Lovren, becomes the first Liverpool player to make our combined XI. Since arriving from Southampton for around £20m, Lovren had come under heavy criticism for some shocking performances. However, since the arrival of Klopp, the 26-year-old has been Liverpool’s best defender and one of their most important players.
Compared to his team-mate, Mamadou Sakho, Lovren has won 80% of his aerial duels compared to the Frenchman’s 61%. Lovren has made less defensive errors than Sakho and boasts a better tackle success rate and total duels won percentage. When compared to Dortmund defender, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Lovren also comes out on top although the Greek defender has been sidelined since February. Liverpool’s centre-back has looked a different player following Brendan Rodgers’ departure and will be looking to cement a place in Liverpool’s defence for next season.
Centre Back – Mats Hummels (Borussia Dortmund)
Liverpool has been heavily linked with Dortmund’s Mat Hummels following Klopp’s appointment. The former Bayern Munich defender has become one of the world’s best centre-backs under the guidance of the German and has been linked with a possible reunion with his former boss. A move is unlikely as Dortmund look set to secure their position in next season’s Champions League.
Hummels is a World Cup winner, where he was named in the all-star XI of the tournament, and one of Germany’s most important players. His place is our combined XI is a must. The 27-year-old is a dominant centre-back, who is extremely confident on the ball. He vaunts a better tackle completion rate and total duels won percentage than the likes of Sergio Ramos, Thiago Silva and Jerome Boateng this season.
Left Back – Alberto Moreno (Liverpool)
The left-back position was a closely fought contest between Liverpool’s Alberto Moreno and Dortmund’s Marcel Schmelzer. The Spaniard narrowly comes on top despite doubts regarding his defensive ability. The former Sevilla defender has been known to neglect his defensive responsibilities meaning Liverpool could look to Jonas Hector as his replacement.
Nevertheless, Moreno makes our combined XI. The Spaniard created 2.01 chances a game on average this season compared to Schmelzer’s 0.97. The German has a better clearance and duels won percentage and has made less defensive errors this season than Liverpool’s full-back. However, Moreno has a better interception, block and tackle average per game this season meaning Moreno is our left-back.
Centre Midfield – Emre Can (Liverpool)
Former Bayern Munich midfielder, Emre Can, has been one of Liverpool’s standout performers this season. Can has been a force in Liverpool’s midfielder and has become a favourite of Klopp. Liverpool sorely lacks a dominant midfield partner for the German in order to implement Klopp’s system with doubts over Jordan Henderson’s suitability for the role.
Can wins his place in the side following a superb run of form. Compared to Henderson, Can has completed an average of 47 successful passes per 90 minutes whilst the captain has made an average of 43. Although the Englishman has created slightly more chances on average, the German midfielder has completed more key passes, won more tackles and has a higher passing accuracy on average. Defensively, Can prevails again. He has completed significantly more blocks, clearance and interceptions than Henderson meaning he wins his place in the side.
Centre Midfield – Ilkay Gundogan (Borussia Dortmund)
German midfielder, Ilkay Gundogan, is another name who has been heavily linked with a move to Merseyside. However, Manchester City are the favourites to land his signature with the arrival of Pep Guardiola in the summer. Gundogan is one of the best midfielders in the Bundesliga and makes our combined XI.
Since arriving from Nurnberg, Gundogan has made over 153 appearances for Dortmund and has become a key player for the side. The 25-year-old has completed 71 successful passes per 90 minutes this season and has created 23 chances for his team-mates this season. Gundogan is a creative midfielder and has a shot accuracy of 39% this season.
Attacking Midfield – Roberto Firmino (Liverpool)
Liverpool’s £20m summer signing, Roberto Firmino, has become an extremely important player for the Reds this season following a slow start to life in England. The Brazilian was vital for Hoffenheim this season who have suffered in the Bundesliga following his departure.
Under Rodgers, Firmino struggled to justify his price tag following his move to Merseyside. In the absence of Daniel Sturridge, the 24-year-old performed admirably in the striker position and has won the support of the Kop. He has become an important player for the Reds this season and scored braces against both Arsenal and Norwich from the false nine role. He has scored eight goals and registered seven assists in the league this season.
Attacking Midfield – Philippe Coutinho (Liverpool)
Philippe Coutinho is arguably Liverpool’s best player and is enjoying one of his best seasons in a Liverpool shirt. Alongside Firmino, Coutinho has excelled in Klopp’s ‘gegenpressing’ philosophy which was highlighted in Liverpool’s 4-1 domination of Manchester City earlier in the season.
There have been rumours that Barcelona are lining up a move for the Brazilian magician yet his heart remains in Liverpool. Coutinho has scored seven goals and registered five assists in the league so far. The Brazilian has created 36 chances for his team-mates this season and has completed 61% of his take-ons this season. Although Henrikh Mkhitaryan proved stiff competition, Coutinho earns his place in the side.
Attacking Midfield – Marco Reus (Borussia Dortmund)
Another obvious choice for the attacking midfielder position is Borussia Dortmund’s Marco Reus. Since his move back to the club from Borussia Monchengladbach, Reus has become one of Europe’s best attackers despite being plagued with injury problems during his time in Germany. Reus is another target rumoured with a move to Anfield which would be a dream signing for the Reds.
Reus has scored 10 goals in the league this season and a further four in the Europe League; including a brace against Spurs. The German winger, who cruelly missed out on his country’s World Cup win, has also provided three assists this season. He has a 56% shot accuracy this season and has created 36 chances in the Bundesliga. Reus has also completed 50% of his attempted take ons this season. The 26-year-old completes a deadly attacking trio in our combined XI.
Striker – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund)
The final position in our combined XI goes to Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese forward is one of the most feared strikers in world football at the moment meaning the likes of Sturridge and Christian Benteke stood no chance. Aubameyang has been in sensational form for his side this season.
The 26-year-old has netted 23 goals in the Bundesliga this season and has scored a further seven goals in the Europa League this season meaning this season has been the most prolific in his career. His goal-scoring exploits has led to interest from Real Madrid. The Dortmund forward has also provided more assists than Liverpool’s forwards this season with a total of five. Aubameyang leads the line in our combined XI and will prove a handful for Liverpool’s defenders in the upcoming tie.
Who would make your combined XI?