Liverpool vs Paris Saint-Germain
| Tuesday, September 18th |
Champions League | Anfield
8:00 PM BST / 3:00 PM EST
And just like that, the Champions League is back, and it begins with what is expected to be a marquee matchup between two of the most potent offenses on the continent. Liverpool and PSG’s attacking trios have scored 199 goals between them since the start of last season, and both teams are off to perfect league starts with five straight wins.
The Parisians come to Anfield for only the second time in their history, and they are bringing their big guns. Neymar and Kylian Mbappé represent the two most expensive transfers in all of football history, and they are flanking a man with over 300 career goals at the top level in Edison Cavani. The terrifying trio is one of few to rival the Reds’ own, and they have gotten off to a slightly better start than their red counterparts, with league 11 goals between them so far this year. Mbappé was suspended and Neymar rested at the weekend, so expect Liverpool’s backline to be in for a challenge.
Thomas Tuchel has talent to spare in midfield as well, picking from Angel Di Maria, Julian Draxler, Adrien Rabiot and Christopher Nkunku—but with Marco Verratti and Lassana Diarra missing out through suspension and injury, respectively—the German will be without two of his best options. Tuchel has experimented with a number of formations and line-ups this year, so it is hard to say exactly how the French side will look at Anfield, but one thing is for certain; they will play an expansive and attacking game.
At the back, there are issues too, with Dani Alves and Layvin Kurzawa sitting the game out through injury, but Tuchel will still have Juan Bernat and Thomas Meunier available to flank the Brazilian centre-back duo of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva.
The Parisians are loaded with talent, is the point, and they will be prioritising the Champions League this year, having never won the competition, and having been eliminated by eventual winners Real Madrid at the Round of 16 stage last season. Tuchel will also be looking for payback for his Dortmund side’s dramatic expulsion from the Europea League back in 2016, at the hands of Klopp’s Reds.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Keïta, Wijnaldum, Milner; Salah, Firmino, Mané
They say to never change a winning formula, and while that is unlikely to remain an option through the entirety of the Reds’ current run of fixtures, it is early enough in the season that players can recover adequately in just three days time. As such, Tuesday’s line-up is unlikely to look massively different from the preceding five.
With eight goals between them in five matches, Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah are yet to find their top gear, saying something about the standards to which they are held. Firmino may be a doubt 24 hours out, but if the striker wins his fitness battle he’s certain to start and Tuesday would be a perfect occasion for the trio to rediscover their form from last year—and they are likely to find space against an expansive Tuchel side.
In midfield, Jordan Henderson has continued to look out of sync and out of form when coming on, while Georginio Wijnaldum, Naby Keïta and the immortal James Milner have taken turns being absolutely stellar. Fabinho has yet to make an appearance in a red shirt, but would offer some physicality and balance in the centre of the park, while Xherdan Shaqiri remains an option in the most attacking role.
At the back, all eyes will be on how the Reds’ impressive defense — having conceded only twice this year, and with one of those being entirely self-inflicted — will hold up under the challenge of PSG’s frontline. Andy Robertson will be facing a future Ballon D’or winner in Mbappé, while 19-year old Trent Alexander-Arnold is tasked with the dual threat of dribbles and dives represented by Neymar. Joe Gomez, now five games into his senior career as a centre-half, has looked immense next to man-mountain Virgil van Dijk, but there is little doubt that Tuesday represents the sternest test of his young career.
What the Managers Had to Say
Jürgen Klopp: It’s football so there are always possibilities and opportunities to bring these fantastic footballers onto your level so you can beat them. That’s what we need to try and do. You cannot only defend or only attack. It’s all about the mix. I’ve been lucky down the years I had teams with a good mix of mentality and quality.”
The Officials (TUR)
Referee: Cüneyt Çakır
Assistants: Bahattin Duran, Tarik Ongun
Fourth official: Mustafa Eyisoy
Additional assistants: Hüseyin Göçek, Barış Şimşek
Kickoff is set for 7:00 PM GMT/3:00 PM EST tomorrow, and television listings for the match can be found on LiveSoccerTV.
In the meantime, and as always, 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.