25 September 2017

Liverpool at Spartak Moscow 09.26.17

2:45pm ET, live in the US on Fox Sports 2

Previous CL matches:
Liverpool: 2-2 Sevilla (h); 4-2 Hoffenheim (h), 2-1 Hoffenheim (a)
Spartak: 1-1 Maribor (a)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-2 Leicester (a); 0-2 Leicester (a); 1-1 Burnley (h)
Spartak: 2-2 Anzhi (h); 2-0 Kuban Krasnodar (a); 2-2 Tosno (a)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Can, Firmino, Salah 2; Alexander-Arnold 1
Spartak: Samedov 1

Referee: Clément Turpin (FRA)

Turpin was in charge of Liverpool's 2015-16 Europe League win over Augsburg, giving Liverpool a penalty to score its lone goal of the tie.

Guess at a line-up:
Trent A-A Matip Lovren Moreno
Can Henderson Coutinho
Salah Firmino Mané

Gomez is suspended; Lallana and Clyne remain absent. Otherwise, no new injuries! It's a *checks calendar* beginning of fall miracle!

That said, there's still bound to be some rotation from Saturday's side. Alexander-Arnold's definitely coming in at right-back. Sadio Mané's almost certain to return on the left, his league suspension finally over but eligible for Europe anyway.

Who gets dropped when Coutinho moves back into midfield – Can or Wijnaldum? Or maybe Mo Salah gets a breather and Coutinho stays in the front three? Is Karius still the European goalkeeper? Will Sturridge replace Firmino – who looked a pale shade of himself on Saturday – up front?

Questions will remain about the XI until we get more evidence on how Klopp continues to deal with two games a week – this just three days after a trip to Leicester but with five days before hosting Newcastle in the last Premier League fixture before another international break.

And questions will remain about this Liverpool side. You know the questions. No matter who plays – in attack, midfield, or defense – can Liverpool convert enough of the voluminous and decent chances in attack to cancel out likely errors and/or misfortune in defense?

Since we won't even bother to pretend to know much about this Spartak Moscow side, I'll direct you to this from the Liverpool Echo.

I like the part about the full-backs' vulnerability. Evidently they're not the quickest? Yeah, start both Mané and Salah.

I also like the part about important absentees.

Quincy Promes – Spartak Moscow's star attacker and supposed former Liverpool target – is doubtful through injury, but given the importance of the contest, you'd think he'll be risked if anywhere near possible. But Glushakov and Zobnin in midfield and Ze Luis up front also seem crucial players. This Echo preview, unlike most I've seen, suggest that both Glushakov and Ze Luis are doubtful rather than confirmed absences, so fair warning.

So let's guess an XI of Rebrov; Yeschenko, Tasci, Bocchetti, Kombarov; Popov, Fernando, Pasalic; Samedov, Luiz Adriano, Promes. Emphasis, obviously, on "guess."

Finally, I also like the part about Spartak's recent struggles.

Spartak Moscow are currently seventh in the Russian Premier League with 14 points from 11 games. They won the league last season. They've won one, lost two, and drawn three in their last six league games, along with a cup win over Kuban Krasnodar and a draw at Maribor in the previous group fixture. And you thought Liverpool had it bad over the last month.

But make no mistake, it's a long, draining away trip to what will be a hostile and very loud ground. It's not an easy fixture regardless of form or fitness. No match in Europe is, especially away from home.

But it's a match where Liverpool should back itself to do well. To do well what it does well, and to push on from a welcomed and needed result earned on Saturday.

No comments :