16 September 2015

Liverpool at Bordeaux 09.17.15

1pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 1

Head-to-head meetings:
3-0 Liverpool (h) 10.31.06
1-0 Liverpool (a) 10.18.06

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 1-3 United (a); 0-3 West Ham (h); 0-0 Arsenal (a)
Bordeaux: 2-2 PSG (a); 2-0 Nantes (h); 1-2 Kairat (a)

Previous rounds:
Liverpool: n/a
Bordeaux: 3-0 AEK Lamaca (h), 1-0 AEK Lamaca (a); 1-0 Kairat (h); 1-2 Kairat (a)

Referee: Alberto Undiano Mallenco (ESP)

Guess at a line-up:
Gomez Toure Sakho Moreno
Can Rossiter
Ibe Firmino Coutinho

There have been a few exceptions – memorably, Real Madrid last season, a handful of Europa League games in his first season – but for the most part, Brendan Rodgers has named surprisingly strong lineups in cup competition throughout his first three seasons.

And I had assumed that'd pretty much be the case tomorrow. Sure, there'd be a few necessary changes, but we'd also get a fair amount of regulars, especially in attack, which continues to misfire and continues to need time to adapt to all the new players.

That apparently won't be the case. Benteke, Milner, Lucas, Lovren, Skrtel, and Clyne have all stayed behind. I guess I'm most surprised about Benteke, for the aforementioned attacking reasons.

With the above players absent, Liverpool's midfield and defense sees rather set it stone. Bogdan or Mignolet could start in goal, but the back four seemingly has to be Gomez, Toure, Sakho, Moreno. Without Milner and Lucas, and with Allen and Henderson injured, Can and Rossiter are the only available midfielders, although if Liverpool persist with the familiar 4-3-3, we've seen Coutinho capable of playing in the center.

But it's not as if Liverpool are lacking in options in attack. Ings, Origi, or Firmino could start up front. Ibe, Firmino, Coutinho, Lallana, and Origi are all potential wide players, even if it's not the preferred position for four of those five. I'd prefer to not see squad pegs crammed into round holes on the flanks, and it seems as if the players available are much more suited to 4-2-3-1 than 4-3-3. Most notably, if Firmino plays – which there's no guarantee of – play him centrally; he's been wasted and invisible on the wing so far.

As for Liverpool's opponents? Your guess is as good as mine. They're 12th in Ligue 1, starting the season with a win, a loss, and three draws. But their last draw, at PSG last Friday, was the first time any team's prevented PSG from taking all three points this season.

If Bordeaux keep the same XI from the match against PSG – which, admittedly, probably won't happen – it'd be Carrasso; Guilbert, Pablo, Pallois, Poundje; Traore, Saivet; Biyogo Poko, Khazri, Maurice-Belay; Crivelli. Bordeaux's struggled with injury problems so far this season: Jaroslav Plasil, Diego Contento, Cheick Diabate, and Gregory Sertic, among others. I'd expect Clement Chantome – one of the few Bordeaux players I'm familiar with! – to return to midfield. Wahbi Khazri has been Bordeaux's most important player so far this season, top scorer with three goals, impressive in a #10 role.

For a bit more information, this from This is Anfield is helpful, as is this quick rundown of Bordeaux's squad from the Echo.

To put it bluntly, Liverpool have been terrible in Europe under Rodgers. Not counting Europa League qualifiers against the well-overmatched Gomel and Hearts in Rodgers' first season, Liverpool have won just two away matches in Europe since 2012-13: the wild, wacky 5-3 at BSC Young Boys and a narrow 1-0 at Udinese. Otherwise? 0-1 at Anzhi, 0-2 at Zenit, 0-1 at Basel, 0-1 at Real Madrid, 2-2 at Ludogorets, and 0-1 at Besiktas. Six matches, two goals, both at Ludogorets last season.

Liverpool are going to need to be a lot better than that to get a result tomorrow. And Brendan Rodgers very much needs a result tomorrow.

Meta: Like last season, there won't be immediate match reviews for the Europa League, but there will be match infographics the next day.

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