The last time Liverpool played against Maribor, they put seven goals past the Slovenian champions. On Wednesday, they’re hoping for a similar outcome, if not necessarily such a lopsided score. To discuss the team’s fourth Champions League clash was vice-captain James Milner, whose impressive performance against NK Maribor was a standout last time around.
“We won’t take them lightly, we know they are a strong team,” Milner said. “You don’t get to the group stages of the Champions League without being a strong side.
I think we performed very well on the night [in Slovenia] and I don’t think they performed to their standards, so I know if I was in their dressing room I would want to put that right and coming to Anfield. It’s a special occasion and I know we have to be on top of our game. So we will perform the same and set the same tempo as we did last time and come out all guns blazing.”
“I don’t think any of their players performed to their best [in the first game] and they will know that. Obviously we have to concentrate on our job and work hard and play well. If we do that we know we have the quality to win the game, but we are expecting to see a very different Maribor side.”
One good thing for Maribor is that Philippe Coutinho will likely not feature in this match, as he is still not fully fit.
After Liverpool’s miserable game against Tottenham, they managed to bounce back and get the victory they needed against Huddersfield Town. Now there’s two games before the November international break, and it would do wonders for this team’s morale if they could go into the final international break of the year with three straight wins under their belts, along with control of their Champions League group.
Milner understands the need for momentum, and bemoans the chopped up club schedule for this problem.
“[Momentum]’s very important and it’s something that’s pretty hard to get at this point in the season with an international break every four weeks. That doesn’t help, but it would be nice to finish off the week with two more wins and get through the international break. Then you are in that season where there are a lot of games with Christmas coming up so there is more of a chance to get momentum.
“We’re in the early stages of the season, we’ve had injuries and we are waiting for it all to click. We showed at Maribor when we do click it’s devastating but we have to get that on a more consistent basis.”
After Maribor comes West Ham at the weekend, and then the November international break. After that, barring any new catastrophes, we may get to see close to Klopp’s best starting XI on the pitch together for the first time this season. Adam Lallana, Sadio Mané, and Philippe Coutinho are all scheduled to return in time for the festive period, with only first choice right-back Nathaniel Clyne still recovering.
In the mean time, Liverpool have a chance to win another important game in front of the Kop on Wednesday with the players they’ve got. They need to take it.