We’re back, baby! Once upon a time, Liverpool fans didn’t make much of a fuss about their club playing in the Champions League, but given that the Reds’ only participation in Europe’s premier club competition since 2009 was their quick exit at the group stage in 2014, one must accept that this is an extraordinary occasion.
And what a way to kick it all off! In what should be considered a relatively straightforward group, the Reds begin the competition with their most narratively interesting fixture; and opportunity to avenge their 2016 Europa League final loss. After an exhilirating run to the final, Liverpool succumbed in the second half to Sevilla, having taken the lead through and exquisite Daniel Sturridge finish in the early stages of the game. It was an anticlimactic ending to what had been a thrilling campaign, and a certain resentment towards the team responsible is only natural.
The current Sevilla side has little in common with the one that bested Liverpool 16 months ago, however, and of the 14 players who took the pitch in that game, only 5 remain at the club. The Andalusians have gotten off to a strong start to their league campaign, with seven points from their first three games, and sport a relatively clean bill of health, only missing former Manchester City man Nolito through injury.
They come into the group stage having defeated Turkish Süper Lig runners-up Basaksehir 4-3 on aggregate in the qualifiers. The rojiblancos play a patient, possession-oriented 4-1-4-1, and Liverpool will have to be wary of top goal scorer Wissam Ben Yedder as well as playmakers Pablo Sarabia and Ganso.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Milner; Sturridge, Firmino, Mané
Sadio Mané, facing a three-match suspensions from all English competitions, is going to play all of the minutes in the Champions League, which is nice. After the defense was given a beating by Manchester City on Saturday, it is probable we see wholesale changes to the defense, with Dejan Lovren likely reinstated and Trent Alexander-Arnold given a rest.
Early subs for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah were likely made with an eye on this game, but yet another start for either player might not be the best idea. Philippe Coutinho’s match fitness is still up in the air, but there is a good chance we see a start for Daniel Sturridge and a home debut for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The Reds head into a busy part of the schedule, with 6 matches in 18 days before the next international break, and squad management and player rotation are going to be interesting subjects for Jürgen Klopp in the coming weeks, ones that will be crucial to the squad’s success on multiple fronts this year.
Kickoff is set for 7.45PM BST/ 2:45PM EST tomorrow on BT Sport 2 in the UK and Fox Sports GO in the US. Elsewhere, beIN Sports in Australia and Canada, Sky Sport 1 in Germany, SONY TEN 2 in India, SuperSport5 Africa in Kenya and Nigeria, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia, Eurosport Asia in Singapore, and SuperSport 3 in South Africa are carrying the match. You can find full listings at LivesoccerTV.
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 all the action as it happens.