Liverpool meet FC Basel on Wednesday night at St. Jakob-Park. After different first games, both sides will be looking to gain maximum points in this Group B encounter.
The hosts, Basel, traveled to Madrid to play Real Madrid in their first game. Unfortunately for Basel, it wasn’t their night, as Madrid won with ease, 5-1.
It was a nervy night for Liverpool in their return to the big-time. They won, but just. Ludogorets came to Anfield as a relatively unknown quantity, but left with mass amounts of pride. Liverpool won the game 2-1, after a Steven Gerrard penalty, late on.
How will Liverpool line-up in Switzerland? As heavily talked about, regarding Liverpool; Brendan Rodgers has to manage his games this season, last season, not so much. Some players struggle to play three games in a week, whereas some cope better with the challenge. Jordan Henderson would cope better, Steven Gerrard wouldn’t be able to, in my opinion.
No surprises in regards to the goalkeeper, it will be Simon Mignolet, barring any late injuries.
There isn’t too much choice for the right-back spot, at the moment. Jon Flanagan is out for a long period of time with an injury picked up way back in pre-season. Glen Johnson is still nursing an injury, but I don’t think it will be too long until he comes back into the squad. Javier Manquillo has been the man on the right hand side, recently, and he has done a fine job there. The 20 year-old has massively impressed me with his defensive solidity, something I think was needed, because Glen Johnson doesn’t impress me at all, defensively.
I expect Dejan Lovren to partner Martin Skrtel in the centre of defence. Even more so now that Mamadou Sakho hasn’t traveled with the squad. Sakho was supposedly not happy with being left out of Brendan Rodgers’ 18 man squad in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Everton. The French international drove off out of the ground instead of watching the game at Anfield. Sakho has since apologized for these actions, and it’s yet to be known if Rodgers is going to take any disciplinary actions.
It’s out of Alberto Moreno and Jose Enrique for the left-back spot. Personally, I’d go for Enrique, and give Moreno a rest for Saturday’s game against West Brom. Enrique impressed me against Middlesbrough in the Capital One Cup last week, too.
Does Steven Gerrard play, or does he sit out and rest for Saturday? He’ll start. He kind of has to. Due to the injuries to Emre Can and Joe Allen, there’s no other options, really. It’s not ideal, playing a 34 year-old in three games a week, again, but needs must.
I think Philippe Coutinho will start somewhere in the midfield, probably somewhere in a midfield three. I think he will be either side of Steven Gerrard, with Jordan Henderson the opposite side to Coutinho. I’m excited to see Coutinho play again, and I’m really hoping he can kick on, because he has had a disappointing start to this season, a season where I expected much from him. Henderson is the type who thrives off playing as many games as possible, and because of his high level of fitness, it doesn’t seem to have too much of an impact on him, as he still performs at a consistent level.
I expect Lazar Markovic to perhaps start again. The Serb did start in Liverpool’s game at the weekend, but I doubt he’s in Rodgers’ plans for Saturday too much, as Daniel Sturridge could return. I hope and believe Markovic will start on the right. He hasn’t impressed too much so far, but I think he’d do well tomorrow night. We would perhaps play more on the counter-attack than usual, and I think that would suit his game, down to a tee.
I think Adam Lallana will be given a rest from Brendan Rodgers. Lallana was, in my opinion, Liverpool’s most influential player in the derby. However, Lallana played 210 minutes (roughly) over the course of four days, after returning from a major knee injury, not long before that. So the plan might be to rest him in order to keep him fit and healthy for the West Brom visit on Saturday.
This means that Raheem Sterling will start on the left hand side? That’s what I’d expect to happen. Sterling is Liverpool’s most influential player on his day, and I think when he gets going, Basel won’t know what’s hit them, and be in for a complete shock. I hope that’s the case, anyway.
Mario Balotelli looks to be Liverpool’s main man again tomorrow night, with Daniel Sturridge not traveling, as he’s still not quite ready for contention after his thigh injury. Balotelli will be looking for his second Champions League goal in as many matches after scoring in match-day one against Ludogorets.
I expect Liverpool to go with a 4-3-3, and perhaps scrape a draw in Switzerland, as it’s a really tough place to go, as they have shown English clubs in the past. This is the team I hope Rodgers goes with: