Liverpool vs. Spartak Moscow
| Wednesday, December 6th |
Champions League | Anfield
7:45PM GMT / 2:45PM EST
Don’t look now, but Liverpool are on the brink of Champions League knockout football for the first time in nine seasons. Nine. All that stands between the Reds and a spot among the top sixteen clubs in Europe is a home leg against Spartak Moscow. A home leg in which the hosts only require a draw. And one in which the visitors will have to go all out for a win in order to qualify from the group, likely at the expense of their opponents.
The Champions League has been a mixed bag for the Russians since they held Liverpool to a draw back in September, smashing Sevilla 5-1 in Moscow, before falling to a loss in the return leg in Spain, and suffering a disappointing draw against NK Maribor, just as Liverpool were busy throwing away their three goal lead at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán. In the end, though, a win at Anfield will propel the Narodnaya komanda to the next stage.
Their best player and noted Gini Wijnaldum buddy, Quincy Promes — who missed Liverpool’s visit to Moscow — has returned, scoring four and assisting five in the nine games since, and offers an additional threat for the Reds’ occassionally pourous defence to account for.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Karius; Gomez, Lovren, Klavan, Moreno; Can, Henderson, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Firmino, Mané
A highly experimental three-man back line with one recognised defender was remarkably successful against Brighton on Saturday, but with both Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan back in full training, one would expect a more traditional line-up tomorrow night.
As usual, Loris Karius will replace Simon Mignolet for the European fixtures, while Nathaniel Clyne and Adam Lallana remain unavailable for selection due to injury.
Sadio Mané is sure to return to the starting XI, while pre-match physical testing will decide which of the remaining members of the front six are deemed ready to start. With the Merseyside derby coming up on Sunday, a bit of rotation would be both prudent and expected, but the importance of at least a point tomorrow dictates a strong line-up.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: “[It is] the game - it’s the game because we are only part of the Champions League because we want to go to the next round.”
“All the good and bad things that have happened so far in the Champions League - mostly good - brought us into this situation; having a home game and if we win then we are through and that’s cool. I know that a lot of people probably already before the game or even in the game will think, ‘we could already be through’ but that’s not life. It’s not if and when, it’s about the moment.”
The Officials (POL)
Referee: Szymon Marciniak
Assistants: Paweł Sokolnicki, Tomasz Listkiewicz
Fourth official: Radosław Siejka
Additional assistants: Paweł Raczkowski, Tomasz Musiał
Kickoff is set for 7:45PM GMT/2:45PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV. In the meantime, we'll be keeping you updated with all the buildup to the game, including team news as it's released, our live matchday thread, and post-match recaps from The Liverpool Offside staff. If you want to join the discussion, sign up for an SB Nation account to have your say on the action as it happens.