2:45pm, live in the US on FSC. Also, if you have DirecTV (which I couldn’t recommend more), you can get all the Champions League games on channels 461-469. And supposedly, most if not all will be in HD, but I’ll believe that when I see all the glorious pixels. (Update: So if it's on another channel, DirecTV doesn't have it in HD. So close, yet so far.)
Last 3 matches:
Liverpool: 4-0 Burnley (h); 3-2 Bolton (a); 1-3 Villa (h)
Debrecen: 1-0 Paksi (a); 3-1 Nyíregyháza Spartacus (h); 2-0 Levski Sofia (h)
Referee: Pedro Proenca (POR)
Guess at a squad:
Johnson Carragher Skrtel Dossena
Benayoun Kuyt Riera
With a midweek game following an international break, and a trip to West Ham on Saturday, there are bound to be some changes, no matter how well Liverpool played last time out. The question is how many changes.
The only one I’ve guessed above is Dossena for Insua. I would have picked Aurelio, but he didn’t make the bench for Burnley, which doesn’t bode well for his availability. But I could also see others being rested – Kyrgiakos for Skrtel, for example, or even Torres getting a game off.
I think it’s safe to say we haven’t seen the best from #9 yet this season. And he still has three goals to his name. I could easily see him starting on the bench, protected for Saturday but available if need be. Maybe the rest would kick-start his season and give him added motivation. But I assume, given it’s Fernando Torres we’re talking about, that he’ll start. It’s Torres.
Supposedly, Mascherano is in contention; according to Benitez, only El Zhar and Aquilani are ruled out. But I still don’t know if that means he’ll play. One, I worry about niggling injuries picked up on international duty – it’s happened before. Two, like against Burnley – and no disrespect to Debrecen – I don’t know if Liverpool will need Masch’s defensive capabilities. I’d rather him get fully fit for West Ham and see Lucas and Gerrard have another go from central midfield.
I wish I could tell you more about Debreceni VSC. I know they’re Hungarian, I know they won the Hungarian league, and they surprisingly beat Levski Sofia in the final qualifying round. Even after looking at their squad, I couldn’t single out any of their players. I don’t think that’s happened in 3+ years of writing this blog. In lieu of being any help at all, I’ll link to RAWK’s Spion Kop with Debrecen fans, which was an interesting read.
Regardless of the opposition, I’d like to remind that there are no easy Champions League games, which is why I’ve guessed a fairly strong squad. The Hungarians will assuredly be up for their first game in the Champions League proper, and Liverpool need a win – both for morale purposes after the iffy start to the league and to begin the European campaign on the right foot. Win, then worry about fitness.