Liverpool make their return to the Champions League on Wednesday night for only the second time in seven years. The Reds face a Sevilla side who are unbeaten so far this season and who will most likely be Liverpool’s main rivals in Group F.
So without further ado, here’s how I think Liverpool will line up in the group opener on Wednesday evening.
If certain media outlets are to be believed, Jurgen Klopp is set to adopt the Arsene Wenger strategy and allow the second choice goalkeeper to start in the Champions League. Many, including myself, remain unconvinced by the German shot-stopper and his performance against Arsenal did little to calm supporters’ nerves. Let’s hope that Karius is more suited to the European game and that he will thrive in the Champions League.
After his superb performance against Arsenal, a lot of Liverpool fans expected to see Joe Gomez in the starting XI to face Manchester City. Seen as the more solid defensively of the two current options, I would expect Gomez to start at right-back on Wednesday evening, not least because I think Trent Alexander-Arnold is perfectly suited to Saturday’s fixture at home to Burnley. It seems like the perfect opportunity to give Trent a break and allow for a more solid option at full-back, despite losing out on some attacking threat.
As someone who isn’t entirely convinced with Joel Matip, I have been impressed by his start to the season. For obvious reasons, I don’t think we can look too analytically into the weekend’s match and therefore I fully expect the Cameroon international to retain his starting berth.
Rested for the weekend’s match due to supposed tiredness from international duty, Lovren will surely come back into the side. He may not be the consummate centre-half but he’s certainly a step-up from Ragnar Klavan.
Albie won’t need reminded about what happened last time out in this fixture. He completely lost his head in the second half costing us the Europa League and a place in the 16/17 UEFA Champions League. However, a year and four months on, he has made a fairly good start to the season. Andy Robertson seems like a shoe-in to start against Burnley after his outstanding debut against Crystal Palace in a similar type of match. Moreno however, who wasn’t on international duty, should be good to go against his former side.
JORDAN HENDERSON, GINI WIJNALDUM, EMRE CAN
I think it’s fair to talk about the midfield three rather than boring you all by saying more or less the same thing individually. These three took plenty of criticism on Saturday and I have voiced criticism myself over their lack of creativity as a unit. However, as I said at the start, Saturday’s game was an anomaly and can’t be used as evidence against anybody. Philippe Coutinho is expected to be back in the squad but I suspect starting him in such a huge match is too much of a risk seeing we don’t know his frame of mind or match fitness level. New signing Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is also an option but, like Robertson and Alexander-Arnold, I see him as a better fit for Burnley on Saturday.
I think this is the easiest prediction of the year. As we all know, our best player is suspended domestically now for a maximum of three games, thereby confirming what we already knew: that Mane would be starting against Sevilla.
Hooked at half-time on Saturday, seemingly with Sevilla in mind, Mohamed Salah will start on the left hand side. Salah has had a terrific start to his Liverpool career but one criticism of the Egyptian would be his end product. He can be very wasteful at times in attempting to convert chances which, very frequently, he has made through his own lightening speed. This is the perfect game for him and Mane.
I absolutely can’t wait to see this man play Champions League football for us. His magical performances in both legs in the playoff against Hoffenheim gave us a taster of exactly what’s to come this year. In an open match with the pace of Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah, the Brazilian will drop deep and run the game as he does so often against the bigger sides. Nobody knows how good he is apart from us and long may that continue.
As for our bench, we have Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, James Milner and Dominic Solanke to choose from (although it is likely one of these will miss out, probably Solanke.) When was the last time we were able to field such a strong side and have so many options on the bench?
Up the Reds.