25 November 2015

Liverpool v Bordeaux 11.26.15

3:05pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 1

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 4-1 City (a); 1-2 Palace (h); 1-0 Kazan (a)
Bordeaux: 2-2 Rennes (a); 3-1 Monaco (h); 1-1 Sion (a)

Previous rounds:
Liverpool: 1-0 Kazan (a); 1-1 Kazan (h); 1-1 Sion (h); 1-1 Bordeaux (a)
Bordeaux: 1-1 Sion (a); 0-1 Sion (h); 0-0 Kazan (a); 1-1 Liverpool (h); 1-2 Kairat (a), 1-0 Kairat (h); 1-0 Lamaca (a), 3-0 Lamaca (h)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Lallana 2, Can, Ibe 1
Bordeaux: Crivelli, Diabate, Jussie, Khazri, Maurice-Belay, Poko, Thelin, Toure 1

Referee: Alon Yefet (ISR)

Yefet has actually done a Liverpool match before: the 2-2 home draw with Young Boys almost exactly three years ago.

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Toure Lovren Moreno
Lucas Allen
Lallana Firmino Ibe

As per usual: there will be some changes, but not as many as we're used to in Europa League matches because a) Liverpool still have a lot of players absent through injury and b) if Liverpool win tomorrow, Liverpool seal qualification to the knockout rounds. But, at the same time, the lesson of Crystal Palace must be remembered. A full-strength squad in Kazan worked for that match, but did not work for the next league match.

So let's just go down the list. Liverpool still have no alternatives at fullback, so Clyne and Moreno will continue to play until their legs fall off. Sakho's still out injured, and Skrtel's ill, which means Toure and Lovren. That Lucas is suspended for Sunday's match against Swansea should mean he starts tomorrow, partnered by either Can or Allen. Ibe will definitely start and Coutinho will definitely miss out with a hamstring strain, ideally fit for Sunday, so the other two players in the attacking line of three will be two from Firmino, Lallana, and Milner. It'll be Benteke or Origi up front, almost certainly the former, with Sturridge probably limited to a potential first substitute appearance under Klopp.

Whoever plays, it'll be a lot stronger XI than we saw when these sides met in September, where Rossiter, Origi, Chirivella, and Gomez all had starring roles. It was about a young a team as possible, and it was a match that Liverpool should have won if not for conceding an equalizer in the final ten minutes. It was a very Brendan Rodgers match, for better and worse.

At home, with a more experienced and potent line-up, Liverpool will dominate proceedings, Liverpool will control possession and tempo. Liverpool won't be able to play as Liverpool played on Saturday. It will be much more 1-2 Palace, 1-0 Bournemouth, 1-0 and 1-1 Kazan than 3-1 Chelsea or 4-1 City. Liverpool will need to be more expansive, Liverpool will need its fullbacks to make solid contributions in attack, Liverpool will need Benteke to Benteke and Ibe to Ibe.

At least Bordeaux will have similar lineup concerns, coupled with much worse league form. Like Liverpool, they'll be missing loads of key players: Khazri's suspended; Sertic, Pallois, Pablo, and Toure are all out injured.

Bordeaux played a 4-4-2 diamond against Liverpool in the last meeting, but have lined up as a 4-3-3, 5-4-1, or orthodox 4-4-2 in the last month of matches. With so many players absent and given the experimentation with formations recently, I won't embarrass us both by trying to guess an XI. Crivelli, one of Bordeaux's better players in the previous meeting and whose good work led to Jussie's equalizer, should start up front. The experienced Chantome and Plasil will form a solid base in midfield. With both Pablo and Pallois missing, Liverpool will have to take advantage of an unfamiliar center-back pairing, putting similar pressure on whoever plays as they did against Demichelis and Mangala.

Since facing Liverpool two months ago, Bordeaux have won three, drawn five, and lost four. 3-1 wins over 2nd-place Lyon and Monaco were impressive, albeit at home. The 1-6 loss to Nice and 0-2 loss to 16th-place Gazélec Ajaccio were less so.

My overriding feeling remains that the Europa League is the Europa League is the Europa League. We hope Liverpool play well. We want Liverpool to qualify for the next stage tomorrow. Liverpool need to build momentum, build on Sunday's outstanding victory, and prove as capable against deep-sitting opposition at home as they've looked against better opposition away from home.

It's easier when the European mid-week match is at Anfield. But I also hope that Liverpool have learned that with the squad as it is, Liverpool can't sacrifice the subsequent league game for Europa League success.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Mignolet, Clyne, Toure, Lovren, Moreno
Lucas Allen Milner
Ibe Firmino benteke
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