RB Salzburg vs Liverpool
| Tuesday, December 10th |
Champions League | Red Bull Arena
5:55PM BST / 12:55PM EST
We’ve reached the ultimate round of the Champions League group stages and as is customary with this Liverpool side, the pressure will be on until the very end. The Reds head to Salzburg knowing that the outcome of the will have an entirely binary effect on the rest of their European campaign; lose and they’re out, don’t lose and they’re in.
Their opponents will have the same mindset, of course, and unlike with the reigning European champions, die Mozartstädter have absolutely nothing to lose. Not that Jesse Marsch would have his team play any differently if they did, mind, and as they showed at Anfield, it doesn’t take many minutes of chaos for this Salzburg side
They haven’t been at their blistering best since the last meeting between the two, however, and in the intervening months since their trip to Anfield, the previously flawless Austrians have drawn four and lost one of their 12 matches in all competitions. As a result, they sit a mere two points ahead of LASK Linz in the Bundesliga, and were forced to play their strongest XI against relegation fodder WSG Tirol at the weekend.
That game did end in a 5-1 win, though, and with two goals in the opening ten minutes, it was a reminder that when they are on song, this Salzburg side are capable of causing absolute havoc.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Milner; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Mané, Firmino, Salah
Unlike tomorrow’s opponents, the Reds have extended their lead at the top of their Premier League table, and after the weekend’s results, sit eight points ahead of Leicester City in second, and a massive 14 points ahead of a deflated-looking Manchester City in third. Making 12 changes to the starting XI in the past two games, Jürgen Klopp has been awarded with two of the most impressive performances of the season, following up the Marco Silva era-ending 5-2 derby win in midweek with an uncannily comfortable 3-0 takedown of Bournemouth on Saturday.
Joël Matip remains unavailable, and despite Dejan Lovren reportedly training today following his hamstring worry and substitution at the weekend, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Joe Gomez reignite his partnership with Virgil van Dijk in the centre of defence.
Trent Alexander-Arnold’s ability to transition the team into offense will likely be deemed more valuable here than against a struggling Watford on Saturday, and so the 21-year old should see another start, while Andrew Robertson could be in line for a rest — having been substituted against Bournemouth and already accumulating just shy of 2000 minutes this season — James Milner his likely replacement.
Fabinho remains a long-term absence in midfield, and a trio of Jordan Henderson, Georginio Wijnaldum, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain would offer a combination of energy, control, passing and transitional threat that should suit the expected nature of this matchup well.
Sadio Mané was rested at the weekend and will be reinstated to the XI, in all probability alongside his superstar frontline partners, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “Of course, we will not go for a point, I actually have no clue how that works. We will try to win with all we have and at the end we will see what happens.”
Jesse Marsch: “What is also important is that we have good self-belief, aggression, presence on the pitch, and play freely, entirely freely and aggressive, that is a big key for us.”
The Officials (NED)
Referee: Danny Makkelie
Assistant referees: Mario Diks, Hessel Steegstra
Fourth official: Kevin Blom
VAR: Jochem Kamphuis, Bas Nijhuis
Kickoff is set for 5:55PM GMT/12:55PM 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.