Alisson has declared himself "100-per-cent fit" after defying his initial prognosis of six weeks on the sidelines and making his Liverpool return last weekend.

The Brazil international damaged his shoulder in training ahead of the October 4 trip to Aston Villa, which the Premier League champions lost 7-2 in his absence.

He also sat out the 2-2 draw with Everton and 1-0 win away at Ajax in the Champions League but was back between the sticks for Saturday's 2-1 win over Sheffield United.

Alisson is expected to start Tuesday's Champions League match with Danish champions Midtjylland at Anfield and has thanked Liverpool's backroom staff for helping him with his swift recovery, having returned a few weeks ahead of schedule.

"It's good to be back, first of all. I'm really happy," he said at a pre-match news conference on Monday.

"I tried to give my best and I have the top physios on my side, helping me as well to accelerate the recovery process.

"As soon as the doctor said it was four to six weeks, I told him: 'No, Doc, we go to two or three weeks maximum.' He agreed with me and then we just go for it.

"I'm really happy to be back. I just want to thank the physios, the fitness staff, the doctors and the goalie coaches who helped me on this process.

"Every injury that you have on the ligament – shoulder, ankle or knee – you still feel something weird. Not pain, not really pain, but it's just weird a little bit.

"You feel it for a while, for a couple of weeks. But nothing that puts limits on my way to play – I'm really 100 per cent fit to play and I'm comfortable with that."

Alisson's absence was felt during his three-match spell on the sidelines, particularly in the loss to Villa, the first time Liverpool had conceded seven goals in a game since 1963.

The Merseyside club have won 57 and lost just four of their 71 top-flight matches since Alisson joined from Roma in July 2018, the 28-year-old's win rate of 80 per cent the best of any Premier League goalkeeper to have played at least 15 games in that period.

"It's bad not being involved in football games. It's the worst thing for a football player," he added. "But, unfortunately, we have to deal with those kinds of things as well.

"It's part of the job. Injuries, we try to avoid them, we try to do prevention work, but sometimes they happen. I'm glad it was only three weeks, but it was a long three weeks, it looked like three months.

"Not being involved in games – in every game – is always hard, not only the Atletico [Madrid] game [last season] or the Aston Villa game – it's always hard because you want to help.

"You want to be involved, do what you love to do and help your team-mates go for our goals."

Jurgen Klopp's side have had a mixed start to the campaign on the results front, not helped by the performances of stand-in keeper Adrian.

He has made more errors directly leading to a goal (three) in his 13 appearances than any other Liverpool player since the start of 2019-20, but Alisson is pleased his side have at least found a way to grind out back-to-back wins.

"Sometimes this is needed," he said. "You will not play the 60 matches in a year in the same way, all the games well.

"Sometimes you need a little bit of luck and luck comes together with hard work, I believe that. We are doing our hard work, so sometimes we win the games without playing the best football.

"But we need to have the full desire, the full passion always in the game. Sometimes you can make it happen.

"But this can't be a routine. We try to play a good game, to play better and better and better, to keep improving. This will be what we will try to do in the next games."

Liverpool are heading into a packed run of fixtures potentially without two of their most important players.

Goalkeeper Alisson, still battling a shoulder injury, missed the Merseyside derby with Everton and it remains unclear how quickly he will return.

Virgil van Dijk was then forced off early in the match at Goodison Park after a reckless challenge by Toffees keeper Jordan Pickford, who was fortunate that an earlier offside flag meant his lunge on the Liverpool defender went unpunished.

Jurgen Klopp will doubtless be concerned by the prospect of Alisson and Van Dijk being sidelined as he prepares for six games in the next three weeks.

We look back at Liverpool's fortunes under Klopp in the league without Van Dijk and Alisson in the side...

 

PILLARS

Van Dijk, of course, has only missed one league match since making his Liverpool debut following a £75million move from Southampton in January 2018. That was a 3-0 win at Huddersfield Town in the very month he arrived.

Similarly, Klopp's men have only failed to win twice in the 11 games Alisson has missed in the top flight, and one of those was Saturday's draw at Everton.

Of course, you would not expect either player to sit out matches lightly. They cost a combined fee of close to £150m and their arrivals helped to transform a previously suspect defence.

It's also undeniable that Liverpool were a far stronger side across the board by the time Van Dijk and Alisson arrived two years ago, with Klopp having had two to three years to implement his ideas and strengthen the collective unit, so any consideration of their form before those signings must be tempered.

But that's not to say there are not some worrying signs.

KLOPP'S BRICK WALL

Under Klopp, Liverpool have played 70 league games with Alisson and Van Dijk in the starting line-up. They have won 56, drawn 10 and lost four, giving them a win rate of 80 per cent – a truly remarkable figure.

By contrast, in 92 games without those two involved, Liverpool have won 49 times, drawn 27 and lost 16, their win rate dropping to 53.3 per cent and their points per game slipping to 1.9 from 2.5.

As mentioned, the Liverpool of October 2015 to January 2018 and the Liverpool since are two different animals, so we should explore things more deeply.

It's no surprise that, without Alisson and Van Dijk, Liverpool have conceded 110 goals – 1.2 per game – compared to just 51, or 0.7 per game, when they have played. But there is negligible difference in terms of their average shots faced per game: it's 8.3 with them and 8.8 without. That tells you the importance of a shot-stopper of Alisson's quality.

Indeed, Liverpool have conceded 13 goals in five league games in 2020-21 this season, the same number they let in after 15 matches last term and the most they have shipped in the first five of a campaign since 1953-54. Nine of those goals have come in the past two games, which Alisson missed.

 

ENGINE OF THE RED MACHINE

Not only do Alisson and Van Dijk control the back line, they dictate the way Liverpool operate.

The Reds average 62.9 per cent possession in league games with those two playing compared with 60.2 per cent without. Their passing accuracy in the opposition half also climbs by nearly three per cent to 79, despite the fact their number of passes into the final third on average drops from 75 to 68 when Alisson and Van Dijk play.

Those numbers indicate that not only do they bring an extra dimension to the attack with a proclivity for line-splitting passes, but they also help Liverpool assume control of games to an extent that their number of attempted forward passes diminishes.

Add to that the fact they win fewer fouls per game (8.2 compared with 9.4) and concede fewer per game (8.4 compared with 10.3) and the measure of authority they bring to these matches becomes clearer. Their absences, for however long, will be keenly felt.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp insisted under-fire goalkeeper Adrian was not to blame for the Premier League champions' 7-2 humbling against Aston Villa.

It was a forgettable outing for Liverpool, who conceded seven goals in a game for the first time since a 7-2 defeat to Tottenham in April 1963.

Liverpool were without first-choice goalkeeper Alisson due to a shoulder injury and the visitors were put to the sword in stunning fashion at Villa Park, where Ollie Watkins scored a first-half hat-trick on Sunday.

Back-up keeper Adrian was forced to collect the ball from his own net within four minutes after his wayward pass to Joe Gomez was seized upon by Villa captain Jack Grealish, who squared for Watkins to slot home. 

Grealish had a brace and there were goals for John McGinn and Villa debutant Ross Barkley, while Reds star Mohamed Salah scored on either side of the break as Liverpool became the first reigning English top-flight champions to concede seven goals in a league match since Arsenal against Sunderland in 1953.

Afterwards, Klopp leapt to the defence of Adrian following confirmation that Alisson will not return for the Merseyside derby against Everton on October 17.

"Not only because of tonight, it's now easy and people are like this – I'm not sure if journalists are like this as well – but now people will go for Adrian and stuff like this," Klopp told reporters.

"Yes, the first goal was not cool, of course. But apart from that, I don't think he had anything to do with all the other goals pretty much. We didn't help him tonight, let me say it like this, or we even did the opposite. He's a really good goalie who played 11 [Premier League] games for us last year and I think we won pretty much all of them.

"It's all fine. Our goalie was not the problem [against Villa]. Only around the first goal. And the reaction for that first goal was not his problem, that was then our problem. We have to do that better, we can do that better."

Klopp added: "It's quite strange when you see a game like this, not that I saw these games like 20 times from my team, I see all these things and I'm old enough to know strange things can happen in life and in football.

"But I saw all the things that happened tonight and I know that if you lose the decisive challenges you will lose football games. We did that tonight. If you protect your own offensive stuff not properly, you will get in trouble. And we got in trouble tonight. And all these things happened tonight. You could see in moments – and I don't think I had to say that a lot – but tonight in different challenges Aston Villa definitely wanted it more than us.

"That's something I saw and I don't like obviously, but now the boys go to their national teams and when they come back – hopefully healthy, all of them – then we have two days' time to prepare the Everton game and then we have the chance to do better."

Jurgen Klopp insisted he was unfazed about Liverpool's chances of reaching 100 points in the Premier League being ended by Arsenal.

Liverpool fell to a 2-1 loss at Emirates Stadium on Wednesday, and the champions can get to a maximum of 99 points this season.

But Klopp said there was no sense of disappointment about not being able to get to 100 points, a record set by Manchester City in 2017-18.

"No, not yet at least, I don't know if it comes," the Liverpool manager told a news conference.

"But it's just I want the points we can get and we will see what it is at the end of the season.

"I cannot make any negative of something really positive, becoming champion, having so early in the season 93 points, I'm not the type of person who makes something negative of it because we cannot get the 100 or two points anymore.

"We get the points we deserve and we will see how many that will be. In the moment it's 93, two games to go, very difficult games, but two games to go and these boys played an exceptional season and nobody can take that away from them.

"But I'm not happy about the game, I'm the opposite, I'm disappointed, angry about a few things, but the game, the game was good and the attitude is good, but we took a break and that's not good and that's why we lost the game."

Liverpool led against Arsenal through Sadio Mane, only for mistakes from Virgil van Dijk and Alisson to see Alexandre Lacazette and Reiss Nelson score in the hosts' victory.

Klopp, whose team entertain Chelsea on July 22, said they were rare mistakes by two of his stars.

"Somebody is surprised that these boys are human beings, I'm not," he said.

"I see them every day, from time to time they are not perfect, but not really often. That's how it is."

Liverpool goalkeeper Andy Lonergan says it is hard to find the words to describe the brilliance of team-mate Alisson.

The Reds broke the transfer record for a keeper in 2018 when they signed the Brazil international from Roma for a fee that could reach £66.8million (€72.5m).

The 27-year-old has proved to be a sound investment, though, helping Jurgen Klopp's side to Champions League, UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup glory last year and to the brink of winning the 2019-20 Premier League title.

Lonergan, who was signed last August on an initial short-term deal when Alisson suffered a calf injury, says training alongside the man he thinks is the world's best goalkeeper has been "a joy".

"You watch him on a Saturday or in the Champions League and you think he is brilliant, but there's just so much more to it than that. He's technically the best," Lonergan told LFCTV.

"Everything he does is the best, but his mentality and his sort of calmness... I can't put into words how good he is.

"It's just a joy to be part of the squad that he's involved in."

Lonergan was delighted to return to Melwood this week as Liverpool resumed staggered training sessions as part of plans to see the Premier League get back underway next month.

"It's been brilliant," he said. "It's obviously strange with the procedures that you have to go through to get on to the training pitch, but once you are on the pitch as goalkeepers you are working at a distance and it's safe enough anyway, so it's back to normal. No settling-in period, just straight into it."

Manuel Neuer is set for three more seasons at Bayern Munich after penning a contract extension until 2023.

The Germany international has established himself as one of the greats of the modern era and is well-placed to win an eighth consecutive Bundesliga title.

The 34-year-old also counts the 2012-13 Champions League and 2014 World Cup among his career honours, but recent seasons have raised questions over whether he remains the same peerless operator he was during those mid-decade glory days.

Alexander Nubel's pending arrival from Schalke suggests Bayern are keen to insure themselves against any dip in form from their club captain over the coming years, so it feels a good time to ask - is Neuer still an elite goalkeeper when compared to contemporaries widely considered to be at the top of their trade?

HEADING BACK IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION

Sunday's 2-0 win at Union Berlin saw Neuer chalk up his 11th Bundesliga clean sheet of the season.

Aside from the 2017-18 campaign, when injuries restricted him to three top-flight outings, he has reached double figures for shutouts every year of his senior career – dating back to 2006-07 when he managed 13 from 27 games at former club Schalke.

However, having stopped around four of every five shots for the majority of his Bayern days, Neuer's save percentage plummeted to 59.7 last season, while his 23 goals conceded outstripped Opta's expected goals on target (xGOT) number of 20.1.

xGOT gives an indication of the number of goals a goalkeeper should concede based upon the quality of shot faced.

This term, Neuer has those numbers in the right order once more. Although 26 let in is already his highest figure in the Bundesliga since his final season at Schalke (a whopping 44 in 2010-11), his xGOT number is 29.5 and his overall save percentage is back up to a more respectable 70.1.

TER STEGEN PRESSING A CASE FOR DIE MANNSCHAFT?

Having stood apart as Germany's number one for the best part of a decade, Neuer has seen Barcelona's Marc-Andre ter Stegen make an increasingly strong case to displace him in the national team.

Neuer's fitness woes coupled with a disappointing 2018 World Cup performance played a part, while Ter Stegen has arguably established himself as Barca's most important player not named Lionel Messi.

This campaign, Neuer is statistically out-performing his Germany rival. Ter Stegen has conceded 29 times with an xGOT reading of 26, while he has managed eight clean sheets from 26 LaLiga matches.

Last season, Ter Stegen's efforts made for very impressive reading, however, with 16 clean sheets and 32 goals conceded in 35 top-flight matches.

His xGOT was up at 38.3 and his save percentage was 72.7 – better than 65.5 this time around.

Both men have shown themselves to be fine proponents of the modern art of sweeper keeping, although Neuer is more active in this regard of late. According to Opta, Ter Stegen has five "keeper sweepings" to his name in each of the past two seasons, with Neuer making nine and 17.

OBLAK THE LEADER OF THE PACK

Looking beyond Germany's number one and two goalkeepers, there is a clear standout performer.

Jan Oblak's virtuoso display at Anfield as Atletico Madrid ended Liverpool's Champions League defence in March was enough to hearten any keeping enthusiast over the intervening barren months.

Such heroics are not unusual for the Slovenia star, who conceded 27 goals despite an xGOT number of 40.3 in 2018-19.

Oblak finished with 20 clean sheets last season, a figure Neuer touched in the back-to-back 2014-15 and 2015-16 campaigns at Bayern. Remarkably, Oblak had 24 league shutouts (and a save percentage of 81.8) in the latter, while he amassed 22 in 2017-18.

This time around, he only has 11 and his save ratio is below 75 per cent for the first time in his Atleti career, and 21 goals conceded compared to xGOT 22.3 has levelled out.

Oblak's two keeper sweepings in 2019-20 underlines his reputation as more of an "old school" goalkeeper, rather than someone accustomed to raiding out of their penalty area.

DE GEA COMING OFF HIS PEAK

Manchester United's David de Gea is also a player who would be counted as being at odds to the new wave of players between the posts, although a dip in his imperious levels has left the Spain international facing similar questions to Neuer over the past couple of seasons.

If United's second-place finish in the 2017-18 Premier League was one of Jose Mourinho's greatest achievements, it certainly ranks as one of De Gea's. He saved in excess of 80 per cent of shots and kept 18 clean sheets, conceding 28 times in 37 matches.

De Gea has already let in more in 2019-20 (30), while he shipped 54 in an increasingly error-strewn 2018-19. Although, perhaps it is as much a case of performances reverting to a mean and not bailing out some haphazard defending in front of him.

In the past two seasons, United's expected goals against (xG) – based upon the quality of chances afforded to opposition players – read 51.2 and 30.2.

SAFE HANDS AT THE BACK OF KLOPP'S MACHINE

Liverpool have transformed from great entertainers to a relentless winning machine since Alisson arrived from Roma in 2018, with Adrian's flimsy showing against Atletico in European competition serving as an uncomfortable reminder of the recent past for the Reds.

Able to build from the back, Brazil's number one has 29 keeper sweeping in a 58-game Premier League career, while also dealing well in the old currency of clean sheets, tallying up 31 in the competition.

Undoubtedly well protected by a defence led by Virgil van Dijk, Alisson is reliable when called upon. His 2019-20 save ratio is up to 80.4 from 77.1 per cent.

Last season, he out-performed his xGOT of 27.5 by letting in just 22, although 11 conceded is slightly higher than a staggeringly low 9.7 xGOT in 2019-20.

That number drops from an xG against of 17.5, suggesting Alisson – who missed an early chunk of the current season due to a calf injury – has also benefitted from wasteful finishing by opponents during Liverpool's march towards the title.

Aside from in the Bundesliga, the resumption of football in Europe's top five leagues still appears some way off due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Players have had plenty of time to analyse their performances this season and we have previously used Opta data to examine some of the best attacking, passing and defending numbers from 2019-20.

Now it is the turn of the continent's top goalkeepers.

We have analysed five metrics for shot stoppers who have featured in at least 10 league games this season, thereby giving us a good summary of those who have led the way between the sticks.

The metrics include fewest goals conceded, best save percentage, fewest drops, the increasingly important passing accuracy and best keeper sweeper accuracy.

There are some familiar names, but also others you might not be expecting...
 

THE BEST GOALKEEPING STATS IN EUROPE'S TOP-FIVE LEAGUES 2019-20:

BUNDESLIGA:

Fewest goals conceded: Alexander Schwolow (20)
Best save percentage: Yann Sommer (74.58 per cent)
Fewest drops: Timo Horn, Lukas Hradecky and Manuel Neuer (all zero from 25 games)
Best passing accuracy: Manuel Neuer (87.69 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Timo Horn, Yann Sommer, Rafal Gikiewicz and Lukas Hradecky (all 100 per cent from 25 games)

LALIGA:

Fewest goals conceded: Ruben Martinez (14)
Best save percentage: Aitor Fernandez (75.61 per cent)
Fewest drops: Manolo Reina (zero in 26 games)
Best passing accuracy: Marc-Andre ter Stegen (85.55 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: David Soria and Aitor Fernandez (both 100 per cent from 27 games)

LIGUE 1:

Fewest goals conceded: Runar Alex Runarsson (17)
Best save percentage: Predrag Rajkovic (79.07 per cent)
Fewest drops: Benoit Costil (zero in 28 games)
Best passing accuracy: Keylor Navas (84.55 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Benoit Costil, Mike Maignan, Regis Gurtner and Benjamin Lecomte (all 100 per cent from 28 games played) 

PREMIER LEAGUE:

Fewest goals conceded: Adrian (10)
Best save percentage: Alisson (80.36 per cent)
Fewest drops: Martin Dubravka and Kasper Schmeichel (both zero in 29 games)
Best passing accuracy: Ederson (86.57 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Jordan Pickford, Rui Patricio, David de Gea and Mat Ryan (all 100 per cent from 29 games played)

SERIE A:

Fewest goals conceded: David Ospina (13)
Best save percentage: Wojciech Szczesny (79.76 per cent)
Fewest drops: Thomas Strakosha (zero in 26 games)
Best passing accuracy: David Ospina (87.07 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Bartlomiej Dragowski and Thomas Strakosha (both 100 per cent from 26 games)

AND THE TOP FIVE:

Fewest goals conceded: Adrian (10)
Best save percentage: Alisson (80.36 per cent)
Fewest drops: Martin Dubravka and Kasper Schmeichel (both zero in 29 games)
Best passing accuracy: Manuel Neuer  (87.69 per cent)
Best keeper sweeper accuracy: Jordan Pickford, Rui Patricio, David de Gea and Mat Ryan (all 100 per cent from 29 games played)

Liverpool have confirmed Alisson has recovered from the hip injury that ruled him out of the Champions League loss to Atletico Madrid at Anfield.

Sidelined after suffering a slight problem in training, the goalkeeper missed last month's 3-2 extra time defeat to Atletico at Anfield that ended the Reds' reign in Europe.

Adrian deputised in the Brazilian's absence, though the back-up was at fault for the first of two goals scored by Marcos Llorente that helped the LaLiga side seal a 4-2 aggregate triumph and a place in the quarter-finals.

That game was Liverpool's last outing before the season was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic, though Alisson - who had also sat out the 2-1 Premier League win over Bournemouth on March 7 - was nearing fitness before the break.

"He sent videos, doing some jumping and exercises,” goalkeeper coach John Achterberg told the club's website about Alisson's progress.

“Obviously, we were working with him until the lockdown and he was basically fit. Now it's for him to maintain it in the house, like the other goalkeepers.

"They all get their programmes from the fitness department so they will do the job and the work to try to stay as fit as they can, like all the other players as well."

Alisson and the rest of the squad are in a unique situation as they train at home due to social-distancing measures put in place to stop the spread of the virus.

However, the Premier League leaders have made sure all their keepers have the equipment required to remain sharp during the suspension, with no immediate sign of a return to action.

"If they needed boots, we got them boots; if they needed balls, we got them some balls. So at least they have the stuff to work in the house as much as they can," Achterberg explained.

"The physical department sent all the weights around that the boys wanted and needed, because some live in apartments and some didn't have all the equipment needed, so the club has provided that with Andreas [Kornmayer's] team.

"They put all together all exercises and some live training sessions. So we've all been in there to try to keep the banter going but also keep the fitness levels going."

Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson will miss the Champions League showdown with Atletico Madrid as he faces at least a week out with a hip injury, Jurgen Klopp has confirmed.

The Brazil international missed the 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Chelsea on Tuesday, with Adrian taking his place – as expected – between the posts.

Klopp revealed Alisson had suffered a slight problem in training prior to the Stamford Bridge trip and he was left behind to avoid risking him unnecessarily, though he was set to be rested anyway.

But after further investigations, it was discovered Alisson's issue was more problematic than initially thought.

He is now set to miss Atletico's visit to Anfield on Wednesday, with Diego Simeone's men 1-0 up from the first leg.

When asked about injuries and whether Jordan Henderson is expected to be fit to face Atletico, Klopp told reporters: "Yes, Jordan has a chance, but not for Bournemouth [on Saturday].

"Shaq [Xherdan Shaqiri] is not involved and unfortunately Alisson is out. Yeah, he's out. In training before Chelsea, [there was a] little incident.

"Then we thought, 'come on, no risks' and left him out of the squad. The next day they found something and now he's out – we'll see, but next week for sure, then we'll see.

"Muscle [injury]. Slightly, in the hip region. You [the media] could all do you work still [with the injury], but for a professional goalkeeper it's slightly different. That's the situation."

Klopp does not expect the 27-year-old to be out for too long.

"I don't want to say no, but I don't know," Klopp replied when asked if Alisson could be back to face Everton on March 16.

"He's not available for the next week. Then we have to judge the situation. I would say after the international break he'll be 100 per cent, but before that I don't know."

It is the second injury Alisson has suffered this season, having missed more than two months at the beginning of the campaign.

Liverpool go into the clash with Bournemouth on the back of three defeats in their last four matches, with the Chelsea reverse coming on the back of a 3-0 loss at Watford - which ended their 44-match unbeaten run in the Premier League.

Liverpool are racing clear at the top of the table and it will surely take a miracle for the Reds not to win their first Premier League title.

Jurgen Klopp's side face old rivals Manchester United on Sunday at Anfield, with the Red Devils the only team to have taken points off Liverpool so far this season.

Unbeaten in 38 Premier League matches, Liverpool are overwhelming favourites, though Ole Gunnar Solskjaer oversaw a 4-0 win over struggling Norwich City on Saturday.

Can United stall Liverpool's procession, or will Klopp's men continue their stroll towards Premier League glory?

Liverpool dominated the voting for UEFA's Champions League Team of the Year 2019, with five Reds players making the final XI alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Jurgen Klopp led Liverpool to their sixth European title in Madrid in June, with Mohamed Salah and Divock Origi on target in a 2-0 victory over Tottenham at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Virgil van Dijk was named man of the match and he features alongside Anfield defensive colleagues Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, as well as goalkeeper Alisson.

Sadio Mane is the other Liverpool player in the line-up, part of a front four completed by Messi, Ronaldo and Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski.

Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie de Jong earned blockbusting moves to Juventus and Barcelona respectively as they helped Ajax to last season's semi-finals and both make the select side, with the latter partnered in central midfield by Manchester City playmaker Kevin De Bruyne.

More than two million votes were cast to select the team via UEFA.com over the course of a six-week period.

Alisson has become the first goalkeeper to win the Samba d'Or Award, beating Liverpool team-mate Roberto Firmino to the prize with Neymar only fifth.

The stopper took 35.54 per cent of the vote for the best Brazilian player in Europe with Firmino in second spot with 23.48 per cent.

Liverpool won the Champions League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Club World Cup in 2019 while Brazil claimed Copa America glory.

Paris Saint-Germain defender Thiago Silva came third with another Liverpool player, midfielder Fabinho, finishing fourth in the voting.

Three-time winner Neymar, who missed Brazil's triumph at the Copa America on home soil, was in fifth place with only 7.57 per cent.

Firmino won the award in 2018 and Alisson is the third player to win the Samba d'Or while representing Philippe Coutinho the 2016 recipient. 

Alisson hailed the importance of Roberto Firmino to Liverpool after the forward's winning goal against Flamengo in the Club World Cup final.

Firmino netted two winners in as many games for the European champions at the tournament, which Liverpool won for the first time thanks to Saturday's 1-0 victory.

The 28-year-old is often questioned due to his lack of goals – he has six this season – despite his vital contributions, but Brazil team-mate Alisson talked up his importance.

"We know and he knows how important he is for the team. And we value him a lot. I think he is one of the most important players for us," the goalkeeper said.

"He doesn't just score, but he assists too. He makes the team play from behind, he helps us a lot and makes a difference.

"We are really happy and I am really happy that he could score, it's important for a striker to score and I'm really happy for everybody and this title."

Liverpool needed extra time to get past Flamengo, with Firmino netting the only goal in the 99th minute.

Divock Origi, who replaced Firmino during extra time, also hailed his fellow forward.

"'Bobby' is an amazing player. He showed it again, the finishing for me was top class and it helped us win the game," he said.

"I told him after the game I'm very happy for him."

Liverpool, who are 10 points clear and have a game in hand in the Premier League, visit second-placed Leicester City on Thursday.

Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane are "fantastic" but would not be as successful without the likes of Virgil van Dijk and Alisson behind them, according to Santiago Solari.

Liverpool's formidable front line have been key to helping Jurgen Klopp's side establish a 10-point lead at the top of the Premier League, scoring 22 goals and supplying 13 assists cumulatively.

The trio will no doubt be central to the Reds' chances of winning the Club World Cup, with a semi-final against Monterrey on Wednesday preceding a potential meeting with Flamengo for the trophy.

Solari, who led Madrid to Club World Cup success in 2018, believes Salah, Firmino and Mane are only able to shine so brightly because of the quality backing them up on the pitch.

"They are fantastic of course. These three strikers almost every game score," Solari told Omnisport.

"They're always a threat to any defence. It's about the team when you're successful. They wouldn't be who they are without such a solid midfield and defenders like Van Dijk or a goalkeeper like Alisson. So football, it's all about the team."

Solari was unsure if Klopp can be considered the world's leading coach, but he had no doubt Liverpool have proven themselves to best team on the planet. However, he was unwilling to write off Flamengo as potential Club World Cup champions.

"You never know who's the best manager but you can say who's the best team. Liverpool have proven to be the best team in the last two years," said Solari.

"They're trying to repeat this year. They're Champions League champions and they're playing very well. That will have a lot to do with the manager whom I respect a lot. He's very charismatic.

"I think most important of all, he got Liverpool to play football. It represents the way fans feel. Aggressive, high tempo, I love Klopp and this Liverpool side."

He added: "This tournament is always full of surprises. It's not always the favourite who wins it. In many occasions the South American teams won.

"Independiente won this tournament, Racing, River Plate in 1996. Yes, there's always room for surprise and we'll see who gets to the final."

Alisson has challenged Liverpool to sustain the defensive focus that has helped them secure back-to-back clean sheets for the first time since September.

The Champions League holders reached the last 16 on Tuesday thanks to a 2-0 win away to Salzburg, with Naby Keita and Mohamed Salah scoring the goals.

It was also Liverpool's second clean sheet in a row, following last Saturday's 3-0 Premier League win at Bournemouth, a result that leaves the Reds eight points clear at the top of the table.

Since losing the Community Shield on penalties in August, Klopp's side have only lost once in all competitions - a 2-0 defeat to Napoli in September - but their defence has nonetheless come under scrutiny following a run of 13 matches in which they conceded at least one goal.

However, with the Reds having now recorded consecutive clean sheets for the first time since victories over MK Dons and Sheffield United almost three months ago, Alisson - who played in neither of those September games - is eager to keep that run going.

"It was just a matter of time and of focus," the goalkeeper told Liverpoolfc.com when asked how their defence has improved.

"The last two games, we were focused for the full game. Even if they had chances we were there, the defenders were there, and I was there to help the team.

"We just need to keep going with this focus because we know our quality and we know what we can do on the pitch when we put in our whole intensity.

"You need to do that for 90 minutes – it's hard, we know, but I think we showed we can do this."

Alisson had to make a string of saves in the first half to keep Salzburg at bay before two goals in quick succession after the interval put Liverpool in control.

"In the first half they made our job more difficult with their intensity they put in," he said. "They had chances, of course, but we neutralised them in the chances, I could make the saves.

"I'm happy with the result and happy with what we did on the pitch.

"It was a difficult game for us, but we did very well, everybody playing together and moving together, defending in a good way and attacking in a good way.

"I'm glad about the score, I'm glad about the clean sheet – but the three points were the most important thing we needed."

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