Liverpool vs RB Salzburg
| Wednesday, October 2nd |
Champions League | Anfield
8PM BST / 3PM EST
After last week saw Liverpool move on to the next stage of the Carabao Cup — pending a ruling on their use of ineligible Pedro Chirivella — the Reds are back in Europe tomorrow night, as they look to pick up their first points of the campaign, hosting Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg.
Die Mozartstädter have started both their domestic and continental campaigns explosively, sitting top of the extremely overmatched Bundesliga table with eight wins and a draw in their opening nine fixtures — sporting a massive 40-9 goal difference — and thoroughly thumped Genk in the first Champions League round, sending the Belgians home with a 6-2 drubbing in their luggage.
The Austrians have been able to manage this feat through a combination of superior talent, an aggressively direct counterpressing style, and the emergence of burgeoning superstar striker Erling Braut Haaland. The former Molde man — who made his senior debut in Norway at only 15 years of age — first made headlines this summer when he put nine goals past Honduras in the U-20 World Cup, and has gone from strength to the strength this season.
So far, he has scored 11 goals and contributed five assists in the league, to the tune of an absurd 2.4 goals or assists per 90 minutes, and the 19-year old scored a hat-trick on his Champions League debut, putting away all three of his shots. At a rock-solid 6’4, 200lbs, the striker will be looking to continue his run of form against the best centre-back pairing he will have ever faced in his young career.
Salzburg are not all about Haaland, however, and American coach Jesse Marsch has managed to extract excellent production from Patson Daka, Takumi Minamino, and Hwang Hee-Chan as well, the quartet having generated 34 goals between them in all competitions this season.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Adrián; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Henderson; Mané, Firmino, Salah
The Reds continued their high-flying start to the Premier League season at the weekend, nicking a 1-0 win at Bramall Lane and taking their win streak to a club-record 16 consecutive games. With 21 out of 21 points collected so far, the Merseysiders sit five points ahead of reigning champs Manchester City, and are three wins away from setting a new Premier League record.
Their European campaign got off on the wrong foot, however, and a 2-0 loss in Naples — admittedly the trickiest match in the group on paper — ensured that the Reds’ margin for error is now somewhat smaller than it could have been had they brought a point back to Anfield. Sadio Mané and Naby Keïta’s former club will certainly not be pushovers, but this is absolutely a match Jürgen Klopp’s charges need to win if they are to have much hope of defending their European crown.
Alisson Becker will likely not be returning until after the next international break, which means two more starts for deputy Adrián, while the back four is likely to see a forced change after Joël Matip picked up a minor knock on the weekend.
All signs point to Klopp sticking with his favoured trio of Fabinho, Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum in midfield, but a Naby Keïta or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to assist the transition game in what is likely to be a high-intensity, back-and-forth affair isn’t out of the question.
Despite Divock Origi providing a refreshing spark upon his introduction on Saturday, it is highly unlikely the Belgian will be inserting himself into the starting conversation here, and with only one more match to go before the international break, Klopp will in all probability continue riding his golden frontline tomorrow.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “This game will be really tough. Salzburg will surprise a lot of people. The way they play is made for surprising bigger teams.”
Jesse Marsch: “It is a terrible match-up for us in one sense because all the things we do well they are better at. So I think, stylistically, it will be a big challenge.”
Referee: Andreas Ekberg (SWE)
Assistant referees: Mehmet Culum (SWE), Stefan Hallberg (SWE)
Fourth official: Kristoffer Karlsson (SWE)
Video Assistant Referees: Jesús Gil Manzano (ESP), Ricardo de Burgos (ESP)
Kickoff is set for 8PM GMT/3PM 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.