Another quick turnaround and busy week for the Reds, as there will have been exactly 72 hours between Anthony Taylor’s signal for the end of their 3-2 win at Leicester, and kickoff at the Otkrytiye Arena on Tuesday. In that time, Liverpool’s players will have had to drive 200km to get back to Merseyside, and travel roughly 2600km in order to reach Moscow. Spartak are no Anzhi Makhachkala in terms of impracticality, but they’re far enough that the journey could be a factor. It will be the fifth time the Merseysiders face Spartak in European competition, with both teams having collected two wins each in previous meetings.
Once there, the Reds can expect the Otkrytiye Arena to be packed to its 45.000 seat capacity , as Spartak avoided having their home games impacted by their fans’ throwing of objects, UEFA deciding instead to deny the club tickets for their next European away match, and fining the club a sure-to-sting €60.000.
After that, it should be downhill for the Moscow outfit. Despite being reigning champions and the Russian Premier League’s winningest ever team, the krasno-belye are not in a good place right now. Languishing in mid-table with 13 points from the opening ten matches, they have struggled with consistency and been exposed by a lack of squad depth. Relying almost entirely on Quincy Promes to create their goals has proved insufficient for a side that concedes 1.5 goals per game, despite the Dutchman prodigious talents, and Liverpool’s attackers should feel confident in coming up against this backline.
The Reds will have to look out for the poaching abilities of former Shakhtar and AC Milan man Luiz Adriano and the aerial strength of Cape Verde international Zé Luís, but the current iteration of this Spartak team is not an offensive powerhouse either.
For Liverpool (4-3-3):
Karius; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Lovren, Robertson; Coutinho, Henderson, Milner; Sturridge, Firmino, Mané
The Reds made hard work of it, but pulled off the away win against Leicester on Saturday evening. In doing so, Jürgen Klopp substituted Roberto Firmino with half an hour to go, probably with an eye on the trip to Moscow. Sadio Mané will return to the frontline, fresh off a two-week rest, and should be chomping at the bit to be back on the pitch. Mohamed Salah might be afforded a rest in place of a resurgent Daniel Sturridge.
At the back, Loris Karius is expected to continue as Liverpool’s European goalkeeper, despite Simon Mignolet’s penalty heroics at the weekend. Joe Gomez serves his one-match ban following his sending-off against Sevilla, with Trent Alexander-Arnold replacing him.
Midfield is where it gets interesting, as the Reds are short on depth and both Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are already approaching 1000 minutes despite the season being only six weeks old. A start for James Milner or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain wouldn’t be surprising, with Marko Grujic a wildcard possibility.
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, TSN4 in Canada, Sky Sport 1 in Germany, SONY TEN 2 in India, SuperSport 6 Africa in Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa, Astro SuperSport 3 in Malaysia and Eurosport Asia in Singapore 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.