Liverpool travel across Europe to Turkey to attempt to hold on to their narrow 1-0 advantage over Besiktas. The Reds were left frustrated in their attempts until Jordon Ibe showed his brilliance and won a late penalty. The major talking point after the game was, what looked like – an argument. Jordan Henderson originally wanted to take the spot kick – however, Mario Balotelli had other ideas. Balotelli is a proven penalty taker from spells at other clubs, so he definitely had an argument. Henderson, though, is the standing captain. Balotelli took it, anyway, and scored. Now Liverpool will be looking to frustrate Besiktas in their attempts to level the tie in Turkey.
The way I imagine the game going is a lot of Liverpool men behind the ball and a couple further up – looking for the potential counter attack. However, there will be spells in the game where Brendan Rodgers’ men look to take some time up by possession football, which has worked well recently. At Selhurst Park in the F.A Cup, the side were winning 2-1 and took about five minutes out of the game from simple passing and movement. What this does, too, is it forces the other team to press and because they will be so desperate for the goal, it means they will have to press quicker and harder. This will obviously and inevitably tire them out and their attempts to score may not be as strong due to fatigue – mentally and physically.
Liverpool have a massive game with Manchester City on Sunday to think about as well as the Besiktas encounter. Perhaps Brendan Rodgers will have half an eye on that game when making his mind up about the starting eleven.
The above makes me wonder if Daniel Sturridge has a major part to play in Turkey. There’s no doubt in my mind that Sturridge will be used by Rodgers on Sunday against the champions. Philippe Coutinho has apparently not traveled with the squad: I’m not sure whether it’s an injury or perhaps a much needed rest from the squad. It’s a big call, if that’s the case.
Jordan Henderson didn’t train with the squad on Wednesday, so this has fueled speculation about an injury to Liverpool’s vice-captain. If he’s not fit – Martin Skrtel will most likely take the captain’s armband. This will also most likely mean a move into midfield for Emre Can, the natural midfielder. This is good for the side because they’ve got a fantastic midfielder in Can, but he’s also a fantastic defender which they will miss.
Mamadou Sakho, too, is likely to miss out in the second leg. A possible back three of Dejan Lovren, Martin Skrtel and Kolo Toure is a scary thought. But that’s most likely going to be the case tonight.
Alberto Moreno will come in for Lazar Markovic, who is banned for competing in Europe for another three games yet. Jordon Ibe will more than likely retain his place in the side. Raheem Sterling may be the man called upon to start up front again. I hope it’s Mario Balotelli, though. Fabio Borini also has a shout of being the go-to man.
I’m going for a disgusting but truly satisfying 1-0 win. Raheem Sterling with the only goal. The side I’d go for:
Choose your Liverpool team here.