‘Same characteristics’: Chelsea captain Azpilicueta says three Liverpool players are almost identical

Chelsea captain Cesar Azpilicueta believes Liverpool’s first-choice front-three are all extremely similar in their playing style.

Speaking to talkSPORT ahead of the FA Cup final later today, Azpilicueta listed the almost identical skillsets of Mohammed Salah, Sadio Mane and Luis Diaz.

If selected for the final this afternoon, Thomas Tuchel’s skipper will directly come up against at least one of Jurgen Klopp’s ferocious forward trio.

Salah, Mane and Diaz are now Liverpool’s most formidable attacking trident, with Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino providing very decent artillery.

Between them, they have scored 74 goals this season.

Photo by Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images

For comparison, Craig Burley’s preferred front-three for Chelsea – Mason Mount, Kai Havertz and Timo Werner – have scored 37 in total, seven more than Salah has managed on his own.

This is one of the key differences between the two German coaches.

Klopp has found the perfect formula up front, whilst Tuchel continues to juggle with various combinations, all providing certain levels of success.

Romelu Lukaku, Christian Pulisic and Mount started the previous game, all scoring in the 3-0 victory over Leeds United.

Will the same three walk out at Wembley this afternoon?

The same question simply won’t be asked of Liverpool’s manager.

Azpilicueta suggests Liverpool’s front-three are pretty similar

Injury aside, Salah, Mane and Diaz will line up under the fabled arch, with Azpilicueta well aware of what awaits him and his co-workers.

“They are the kind of forwards that run a lot, they press, they attack the line,” said the Spanish defender.

“Every chance they get they want to get forward, they want to be in the box, they want to create chances.

“Back in the day, the wingers were more wingers. I faced more one-against-one. They wanted to cross the ball more.

Photo by Andrew Powell/Liverpool FC via Getty Images

“The wingers now are more forwards. They want to attack the ball and create chances.

“In the Liverpool side, the different options they have, they have more or less the same characteristics.

“They want to attack the line and the three of them (Salah, Mane, Diaz) want to create chances.”

How will Chelsea cope with Salah, Sadio and Diaz?

Whilst Tuchel will leave fans in the dark over who will play up top, there is also some debate over the personnel to be picked at the back.

Azpilicueta did not start in mid-week at Elland Road, replaced by Trevoh Chalobah, who once again performed impressively.

Thiago Silva also sat out the win, allowing Andreas Christensen to step into defence.

Silva is set to return, with Antonio Rudiger also certain to play, but the final spot in the back-three is up for grabs.

For the big occasion, Azpilicueta probably just edges out Chalobah.

Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

However, Salah, Mane and Diaz’s pace may trouble the 32-year-old full-back.

Therefore, some younger legs might be required.

All will be revealed in a few hours’ time.

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Nathaniel is a football journalist who graduated from the University of Derby. He has worked at Burton Albion as part of their media team for two years. Nathaniel produces regular articles for the club’s official website and match-day programme. He covered the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in Brittany and has reported from grounds ranging from non-league up to the Premier League.