13 April 2016

Liverpool v Borussia Dortmund 04.14.16

1-1 on aggregate (Liverpool lead on away goals)

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

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 4-1 Stoke (h); 1-1 Dortmund (a); 1-1 Tottenham (h)
Dortmund: 2-2 Schalke (a); 1-1 Liverpool (h); 3-2 Werder Bremen (h)

Previous EL rounds:
Liverpool: 1-1 Dortmund (a); 1-1 United (a), 2-0 United (h); 1-0 Augsburg (h), 0-0 Augsburg (a); 0-0 Sion (a); 2-1 Bordeaux (h); 1-0 Kazan (a); 1-1 Kazan (h); 1-1 Sion (h); 1-1 Bordeaux (a)
Dortmund: 1-1 Liverpool (h); 2-1 Tottenham (a), 3-0 Tottenham (h); 1-0 Porto (a), 2-0 Porto (h); 0-1 PAOK (h); 0-1 Krasnodar (a); 4-0 Qabala (h); 3-1 Qabala (a); 1-1 PAOK (a); 2-1 Krasnodar (h); 7-2 Odd (h); 3-4 Odd (a); 5-0 Wolfsberger (h); 1-0 Wolfsberger (a)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Lallana, Milner 2; Benteke, Can, Coutinho, Firmino, Ibe, Origi, Sturridge 1
Dortmund: Aubameyang 10; Reus 8; Mkhitaryan 6; Kagawa 3; Castro, Ginter, Gündogan, Hoffman, Hummels, Park, Piszczek 1

Referee: Cüneyt Çakır (TUR)

Guess at a line-up:
Clyne Lovren Sakho Moreno
Allen Can Milner
Lallana Origi Coutinho

Once more into the breach, dear friends. Do what you did last week, but a little bit better at both ends, and Liverpool will have an excellent chance of qualifying for its first European semifinals in six years.

Maybe Sturridge starts up front instead of Origi, with Liverpool likely to have marginally more possession than they did in Dortmund. Maybe Firmino comes back into the side, either at the expense of Lallana or the third central midfielder. Maybe both Sturridge and Origi start up top, with Liverpool capable of playing with a midfield diamond or an orthodox 4-4-2.

But I suspect it'll be the same as a week ago, Allen replacing the injured Henderson the only change to the starting XI. Despite the different venue, despite the magic of European nights at Anfield and the difference that atmosphere can make, I suspect this match will look a lot like last week's. Dortmund will have the ball, Dortmund will attack. Liverpool will press, Liverpool will counter, but, primarily, Liverpool will defend.

And Liverpool will need to defend. It won't be the only priority, but keeping a clean sheet means Liverpool win the tie and Liverpool will advance to the semi-finals. But, of course, you can't just go Full Pulis and focus solely on keeping a clean sheet, pinned back for 90 consecutive minutes, because you will undoubtedly tire and Dortmund will almost certainly score.

Liverpool have focused on defense throughout this competition, but not just on defense. I've frequently mentioned that Liverpool haven't allowed an open play goal in the last 795 minutes of European football, since 15 minutes into Klopp's first match, but Liverpool have also scored at least once in nine of the 11 Europa League matches this season, the dead rubber 0-0 at Sion and 0-0 first leg at Augsburg the only exceptions. It's usually just once, 2-1 v Bordeaux and 2-0 v United the only matches where Liverpool have scored more than once, but once would be a good start tomorrow.

That, as much as Liverpool's defense since Klopp became manager, is the reason that Liverpool remain the only unbeaten side left in this competition.

But it still seems clear that what goes on in Liverpool's half of the field will decide tomorrow's result. What will Dortmund do and how can Liverpool stop it, as they almost totally did in Dortmund a week ago. Dortmund's away record in all competitions this season is 17W-4D-4L. More importantly, they've been held scoreless just in two of 25 away matches this season: a 0-1 loss at Krasnodar in the group stage with Dortmund already qualified for the knockout rounds and a 0-0 draw at third-place Hertha Berlin two months ago. That's it. They're averaging 1.96 goals per away match this season, and looking at their group of attackers, it's not hard to see why.

Dortmund are better at home, where they've drawn just three and lost just once this season, averaging 3.04 goals per game. And Liverpool held them to just one, coming away with an important draw. But with that attack, they can score anywhere, against anyone. As Liverpool learned, they press effectively, transition quickly, and are dangerous on set plays. It will take a hell of an effort to keep them out: disciplined defensively and positionally intelligent; hunting in packs in both halves of the pitch, but also quickly recovering if the press doesn't work to get back into two solid bands in their own half.

Like Liverpool, Dortmund rested the majority of its Europa League side in the weekend match, a 2-2 away draw with Schalke in the Ruhr Derby. Only Hummels, Bender, and Durm started both matches, with Aubameyang, Mkhitaryan, and Gündogan used as substitutes.

Gündogan's return is incredibly important for Dortmund, a more vital midfield metronome than the impressive Weigl and Sahin. If Gündogan comes back into the side, who makes way? Weigl, the most similar player in last week's starting XI? Castro, the other midfielder, who played a more advanced role in the second half when Sahin came in? Durm, who Sahin replaced at halftime?

My suspicion is Durm, with Gündogan in the role that Sahin played in the second half and Castro again further forward. But, again, it's not as if Dortmund don't have options. Kagawa rather than Castro (or Durm). Bender keeping his place in defense. A 3-4-3 curveball, as they did against Bayern Munich last month and Schalke on Sunday. But the probable XI remains Weidenfeller; Piszczek, Sokratis, Hummels, Schmelzer; Weigl, Gündogan; Mkhitaryan, Castro, Reus; Aubameyang.

As terrifying a match-up as it still is, even with Liverpool's narrow away goal lead, this is the type of match that Liverpool need to be playing. The type of match that Liverpool weren't playing enough under the previous manager. A potentially season-defining fixture. A European night at Anfield. Everything to play for. Against one of the top-five teams in Europe, one which happens to be the new manager's previous club.

This is what sport is supposed to be about. Make the most of it.


Thomas Ledbetter said...

Am I supposed to be sweating with fear after reading this?? Because I am. *faints on top of keyboard* lakjdflkajs dfklajsdflkajsd

Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund said...

After 1-1 in the first round of quarterfinals, UEFA Europa League, Liverpool wil meet Borussia Dortmund on Anfield Stadium. This match is more like a final, and if the winner of this game will win this competition, next year will play directly in the Champions League.

stoneybatter said...

Isn't Moreno suspended for yellow card accumulation?

Salar Mehmand said...

Wow What a win for Liverpool... SImply loving it <3
In case if u missed it , watch the complete match here...
Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund – Highlights