Following on from Saturday’s Premier League disappointment Liverpool are back in Champions League action and in the round of 16.
As most things in current times, the game is not as straight forward as it should be. Instead of playing the game as planned in Germany, the match will be contested in Budapest in the Puskas Stadium.
Germany and other countries in Europe have imposed a travel ban on other nations, so Leipzig’s ‘home leg’ will be played on Hungarian soil.
Liverpool will be hoping the Champions League offers somewhat of a reprieve from domestic action and a revival for The Reds. In what is Liverpool’s last chance of silverware this season, it is a game which won’t be an easy passage to the next round.
RB Leipzig are having a wonderful season and find themselves in second place behind current CL holders and Jurgen Klopp’s former foes, Bayern Munich. Leipzig had a tough journey through the group stage but came in second place behind Paris Saint Germain, knocking out Manchester United and relegating them to the Europa League in the process.
Liverpool have never played Leipzig, a club only founded 11 years ago who now find themselves amongst the elite. They have a talented, young manager in Julian Nagelsmann and the 33-year-old has long been in conversation to join the Premier League at some point in the near future.
RasenBallsport Leipzig are a formidable outfit and The Red Bulls will be no easy task for Klopp and his Red Men to overcome.
Team News: Liverpool
Liverpool could be without as many as 10 first team players, all ruled out through injury. To compound the miserable 3-1 defeat to Leicester at the weekend we also saw James Milner limp off the pitch. After only 17 minutes the Liverpool man picked up a hamstring injury to further deepen the Anfield injury crisis.
Even before the encounter Divock Origi and new signing Ben Davies were ruled out, along with reserve goalkeeper, Caoimhin Kelleher. Their fitness remains an issue and whether they make Tuesday’s squad is unknown as of yet.
Fabinho is facing late fitness tests after missing the most recent few games with a muscle injury. His presence and calm demeanour will be needed at the back, especially since his injury, Liverpool have conceded 7 goals in their past 2 games.
None of Leipzig’s CL games have remained without a goal being scored, so solidifying the back line will be vital if Liverpool are to progress.
Injury List Mounting
It is unlikely that Naby Keita will return to face his former club as he still continues his battle for fitness. Keita could be a vital player in the coming months so rushing him back, although needed, may be a risk Klopp isn’t willing to take.
There is no denying that the past few games have been a whirlwind of emotion. The conundrum of moving Henderson back to midfield is still ongoing but as we saw on Saturday, Ozan Kabak and Alisson aren’t quite on the same wavelength with each other just yet. This game may need Henderson ushering and communicating at the back again to avoid an even bigger catastrophe.
The ever-shining light in the surrounding darkness is the awe-inspiring output of the Egyptian King, Mo Salah. Even in testing times and poor results the ‘one season wonder’ is leading the way (again) in terms of goals. Salah has 17 goals in the league this season and 116 goals in 183 games for The Reds. Oh, and 45 assists. Liverpool will look to their star man once again in Budapest and hope that he can notch a very important away goal.
Thiago has come under scrutiny for not settling in as well as a player of his calibre should. He started on the bench at the weekend and replaced the injured Milner but expect to see him back in the line-up on Tuesday. Liverpool will most likely turn once again to Gini Wijnaldum but the third midfield spot could go to anyone.
Curtis Jones has been impressive in his first full season as a first team regular, but Oxlade-Chamberlain or Xherdan Shaqiri could also start there.
RB Leipzig Team News
The Red Bulls had the luxury of a Friday night game in the Bundasliga and the chance to rest some of their players. They still beat Augsburg 2-1 and managed to keep Marcel Sabitzer, Alex Sorloth and Bayern bound Dayot Upamecano rested.
Rumoured Liverpool target Ibrahima Konate was welcomed back in to the team on Friday and will most likely form the CB pairing with Upamecano. Justin Kluivert was also back on the bench after some time out so could find himself playing some part against The Reds too.
Leipzig have some injury woes of their own, Emil Forsberg, Benjamin Henrichs, Konrad Laimer and new January signing and wonderkid Dominik Szoboszlai are all on the injury list.
Nagelsmann’s side will feature a former Liverpool man in their ranks in goal, Peter Gulacsi. He will be playing on his national teams’ home soil and has 36 caps for Hungary. Gulacsi signed for Liverpool in 2007 but was later signed by Red Bull Salzburg in 2013 on a free transfer without making a first team appearance for the Merseyside team.
Liverpool will have to be wary of an impressive Leipzig team. The German side found themselves in the semi-finals of the competition last year and have impressive and talented players in their ranks. Dani Olmo, Yussuf Poulsen, Marcel Sabitzer, Hwang Hee-chan, Amadou Haidara, Christopher Nkuku and Alex Sorloth are all player who can dent Liverpool’s hopes and will have to be watched carefully.
This is a big task for Klopp’s men: confidence seems shot and the injuries are once again stacking up. This game could offer an alternative outlet for Liverpool and revivify their domestic season back to life again.
The Reds will have to be in fine form but nick an away goal and bring the Bulls back to Anfield would mean advantage Liverpool. With Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mo Salah, the goal threat is always there.
Leipzig are on a four-match winning streak and Man City man Angelino is on fire. The loan-star made his move permanent over the weekend, he has seven goals and assists this season, he is the club’s highest scorer in the domestic and Champions League.
Gone are the days where Leipzig relied on Timo Werner’s goals though, they have goal scorers across the squad with Poulsen, Forsberg and Nkuku also scoring frequently. Simply put, Leipzig carry threats across the pitch.
Liverpool will have to be brave, they will have to be bold and cunning when playing against The Red Bulls. This is knockout football at the highest level, switch off or lose faith and focus, you’re out.
Jurgen Klopp will look to inspire his team once more in a competition he won in 2019. This is, after all, Liverpool’s last real hope of a trophy this season.
But if anyone can do it, Klopp and his men can. Liverpool were made for European nights; form is temporary, class is permanent.
Up the Reds. Up Jurgen Klopp. YNWA.
Read more by Ritchie Slack (@Slack_9)