RB Leipzig vs Liverpool
| Tuesday, February 16th |
Champions League | Puskas Arena
8PM BST /3PM EST
After a ten-week hiatus, the Champions League is back, and in the meanwhile, Liverpool have gone ahead and eliminated themselves from contention in every other competition, making the Champions League — in addition to a top four spot, if we’re being honest — the only thing left to fight for.
In their way stand the sports arm of an energy drink behemoth, and they’re pretty tough. Julian Nagelsmann — famously unafraid to lose 4-2 at Anfield — leads a side that, although it is considerably light on strikers, plays innovative, modern football, and who for the second year in a row, look set to finish second in the Bundesliga.
Although their title challenge looks to have fallen apart at the halfway point again, Red Bull Leipzig are on a much better run than tomorrow’s opponents, winning three in a row, and have consistently put up tremendous defensive performances, no doubt partially down to the bevy of talented defenders and industrious midfielders populating the squad.
Top scorers Yussuf Poulsen and Angeliño(!) are set to feature, while defender Benjamin Heinrichs, creator Emil Forsberg and new signing Dominik Szoboszlai will all miss out through injuries.
Projected Liverpool Lineup (4-3-3)
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Kabak, Henderson, Robertson; Thiago, Wijnaldum, Jones; Mané, Firmino, Salah
After another defeat at the weekend, Jürgen Klopp’s men will be looking to once more discover that wonderful feeling of winning, a sensation they have only managed three times in their last 11 outings.
The backline continues to be an issue, but despite his struggles at the weekend, and given the persistent injuries to Joël Matip and Fabinho, the assumption is that Ozan Kabak will get another chance to start next to Jordan Henderson on Tuesday night.
James Milner was substituted after feeling his hamstring on Saturday, and although Naby Keïta has returned to training, the Guinean has not traveled with the squad to Budapest. As such, midfield will be made up of three players from Thiago, Georginio Wijnaldum, Curtis Jones, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Xherdan Shaqiri, depending on how Klopp wishes to attack Leipzig’s unique structure.
Up top, the front three continue to misfire, but will be given a chance to face off with one of Europe’s most impressive young defensive lines, and the hope is that Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah will be able to add to their season grand total of four CL goals between them.
What the Managers Said
Jürgen Klopp: “We know how difficult it is against Leipzig; I assume Leipzig know how difficult it is against us. And we’ll just try to make sure that our football, that can still be excellent, wins. It just hasn’t been the results recently and that’s what we’re going to start changing tomorrow night.”
Julian Nagelsmann: “They are still slightly favorites against us, based on their European experience. If we lose, it will not be because of the stadium, it will be because of the way we played.”
The Officials (SVN)
Referee: Slavko Vinčić
Assistant referees: Tomaž Klančnik, Andraž Kovačič
Fourth official: Matej Jug
VAR: Massimiliano Irrati (ITA), Jure Praprotnik
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.