20 November 2017

Liverpool at Sevilla 11.21.17

2:45pm ET, live in the US on Fox Soccer Plus, ESPN3, and Facebook Live

Previous Group results:
Liverpool: 3-0 Maribor (h); 7-0 Maribor (a); 1-1 Spartak (a); 2-2 Sevilla (h)
Sevilla: 2-1 Spartak (h); 1-5 Spartak (a); 3-0 Maribor (h); 2-2 Liverpool (a)

Last three matches:
Liverpool: 3-0 Southampton (h); 4-1 West Ham (a); 3-0 Maribor (h)
Sevilla: 2-1 Celta Vigo (h); 1-2 Barcelona (a); 2-1 Spartak (h)

Goalscorers (Europe):
Liverpool: Salah 5; Firmino 4; Can 3; Alexander-Arnold, Coutinho 2; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sturridge 1
Sevilla: Ben Yedder 6; Escudero 2; Banega, Correa, Kjaer, Lenglet 1

Referee: Felix Brych (GER)

Guess at a line-up:
Gomez Lovren Klavan Moreno
Can Henderson Coutinho
Salah Firmino Mané

Now we get into the meat of the season. Two matches a week for the next six weeks. And this week's two are a crucial Champions League decider and against the defending Premier League champions.

So, even though it's tempting to think "ROTATION," I wouldn't be surprised if there isn't that much, especially since Liverpool are in a very welcomed decent vein of form.

It's safe to assume Karius will return as Champions League goalkeeper. Gomez will probably come in for Alexander-Arnold. Emre Can's probably coming back into midfield as well, with Wijnaldum the most likely to make way. But that should be the extent of Liverpool's changes, no matter what's to come on the weekend. It is probably too soon for Lallana to start, although I wouldn't be surprised to see him off the bench, while Matip remains injured and didn't travel.

The most important match is the one in front of you. And this one's pretty important regardless.

There's a chance we'll see the 4-2-4/4-4-2 that Liverpool played at West Ham – something like a front six of Mané, Henderson, Can, Coutinho; Firmino, Salah – with Liverpool likely to have a lot less possession, but I'm still guessing 4-3-3 more often than not given how Liverpool have lined up over the last season. That and Liverpool shouldn't need to coax Sevilla into coming out, as they did at West Ham. Sevilla are coming out regardless.

Like Liverpool, Sevilla are finding their way back after a shaky October, with four wins from five – an expected, narrow loss to Barcelona the only outlier – after losing three consecutive matches last month, with two of those losses by four goals.

Like Liverpool, Sevilla's become almost unplayable on their own ground, winning seven and drawing two in all competitions this season, scoring 18 and conceding just six.

Like Jürgen Klopp, Eduardo Berizzo will have decisions to make. Eight players who started against Liverpool at Anfield didn't feature on Saturday: Ben Yedder, Banega, Navas, Correa, Mercado, Kjaer, Pareja, and Sergio Rico. Only two were due to injury: Correa and Pareja, and the former will be back in the squad tomorrow.

Will it be Ben Yedder or Luis Muriel up front? The former scored against Liverpool and has six goals in this competition but the latter made a massive difference as a substitute the last time these sides met and has been preferred lately. The returning Correa, who also scored in the last meeting, or Nolito? Or both, with Navas making way? Does Sergio Rico continue as Champions League goalkeeper, with Soria used only in league matches? Is there a place for Pablo Sarabia, who has played well in Correa's absence, and has been picked over Navas half the time when Nolito's started on the left?

My guess – which, as usual, is very much a guess – is Sergio Rico; Mercado, Geis, Kjaer, Escudero; N'Zonzi, Pizarro; Correa, Banega, Nolito; Muriel.

Games at Sevilla are usually strangulations. No other La Liga side averages fewer shots at home. Only two allow fewer shots. But Sevilla have scored at least two goals seven of nine home matches in all competitions. Only Istanbul Basaksehir has scored more than one, a 2-2 draw in the second leg of a Champions League qualifier.

If it were last season, I'd say these are exactly the type of games where Liverpool thrive. See: 2-1 Chelsea, 1-0 City, 2-0 Tottenham, 3-1 Arsenal. But we've seen a lot less of it in the few big matches this season.

So, yeah, this is a big week.

Liverpool qualify for the knockout rounds with a win. As do Sevilla. A draw will be good enough for Liverpool if Spartak Moscow somehow lose to Maribor. And a loss doesn't doom either, although a Sevilla loss would require Liverpool helping them against Spartak next match, assuming Spartak beat Maribor.

Liverpool will do Liverpool, and look for the win. This Liverpool knows no other way. And so will Sevilla.


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Anonymous said...

Already 0-3 up at half time, not bad at all! Made a mockery of Sevilla's impressive home record.

Anonymous said...

Spoke too soon. Another second half collapse a la the Europa Cup final...

Gabe said...

Fire Alberto Moreno into the sun.


His defensive dumpster fires are 100% on Klopp, who insists on playing him despite near-catastrophes match after match after match.

Klopp is lucky Moreno didn't cost them a knockout spot. Please don't Moreno ruin anything else.


Anonymous said...

Moreno is so bad he gave their coach cancer.