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Should Luiz Diaz start the Champions League final? Liverpool legend gives his verdict

Diaz was man of the match in Liverpool's FA Cup final win against Chelsea at Wembley
Kevin Palmer

He has emerged as a star turn in Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool team since his arrival at the club in January and now Luiz Diaz could be set to start in the Champions League final against Real Madrid in Paris.

Yet Anfield legend Ian Rush has suggested Klopp may be tempted to stick with his tried and tested performers for the showpiece occasion in the French capital on May 29, with Diaz's sparkling form not guaranteeing him a starting spot in the Liverpool team.

Diaz was man of the match in Liverpool's FA Cup final win against Chelsea at Wembley, but Rush warns he could still face disappointment when the Liverpool team is selected in Paris.

"Given the performance Luis Diaz put in at Wembley, one might assume that he’s a guaranteed starter in the Champions League final next week, but it’s by no means a given," Rush told Gambling.com.

"Liverpool have such fantastic strength in depth I wouldn’t put money on any forward as a certainty to start. Diaz has been fantastic though, I really didn’t expect him to hit the ground running because English football is so demanding, but he’s taken to it like a duck to water.

"Even so, if Jurgen thinks he has a better option to suit Real Madrid then he’ll have no hesitation in going with what he believes is best – and Roberto Firmino gave us all a reminder of how good he is with an assured performance against Southampton on Tuesday night.

"Any three of the forwards from maybe six or seven options could be in Klopp’s mind, but he won’t be thinking about the Champions League final just yet – there’s still the small matter of the Premier League title to be settled."

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is a potential obstacle for City (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Former Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard is a potential obstacle for City (Zac Goodwin/PA)

Steven Gerrard's Aston Villa offer Liverpool their final hope of Premier League glory, with the LIverpool legend taking his side to the Etihad Stadium on the final weekend of the season needing to stop City winning to open the door for Klopp's side to clinch the title.

Rush suspects this will be the moment when their quadruple dream dies, but he is still full of praise for a Liverpool side that have gone closer than any in English football history to a quadruple.

"Steven Gerrard is already a Liverpool icon of the highest order but he’ll add a whole new chapter to his legendary status if he can play a helping hand in his old club winning the Premier League on Sunday," added Rush.

"Knowing Stevie, he won’t be thinking like that. He’ll be plotting for a result for Villa first and foremost, but he’s not the only Liverpool connection on the Villa Park books – there’s also Gary McAllister and, of course, Philippe Coutinho.

"Wouldn’t it be nice to see Philippe Coutinho pop up with a decisive goal? I hope he’s motivated by the 2013-14 season when City pipped the Liverpool team he was a part of on the last day.

"Whatever happens, it’s pretty remarkable to think that every single Liverpool game this season has had something significant riding on it.

"What I love so much about this side is that they’re a joy to watch. They don’t play boring football, it’s full throttle and the fact they’re a little bit vulnerable given the high line they defend with makes them an enjoyable watch for neutrals too.

"To get this far and still have a shot at winning everything before them is astonishing, but even if they fail to win both the Premier League and the Champions League it shouldn’t take the shine off what has been an incredible season.

"Yes, people will be disappointed if City burst the quadruple bubble this weekend, and then losing to Real Madrid the following weekend would hurt, but even if that happens this is still a season for the ages.

"Players who operate at this level only become more determined when they get agonisingly close to winning, but fall short. Like the Liverpool side who lost the Champions League final to Real Madrid in 2018, they came back in 2019 and won it. They did the same thing in the league the following season.

"What I’m saying is, failure isn’t always what it’s made out to be. It can breed success further down the line, and fans will have to realise that if things don’t go Liverpool’s way in the last two games of the campaign."


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