Preview: Liverpool vs Red Star Belgrade
Having recorded victory against Huddersfield at the weekend, Klopp will be hoping for more of the same against Red Star Belgrade.
The Serbians though, who are unbeaten in their own league, will be looking to make life difficult for the Reds. With European nights returning to Anfield, let us preview the 3rd group game of Liverpool’s Champions League campaign.
A Low Scoring Affair
Even from an outsider’s perspective, it’s obvious that Liverpool are struggling when going forward. For a front line that was so potent last season, the same attack have been uncharacteristically sloppy and sluggish so far. In fact, the Reds have failed to score more than one goal in each of their last 5 games.
That is unlikely to change anytime soon, with Red Star aiming to pull off a result similar to the one they achieved against Napoli in September. Then, the Serbians frustrated their Italian counterparts, eventually playing out to a scoreless draw. An exasperated Carlo Ancelotti later described them as “professionals at time-wasting and diving”.
With Red Star expected to employ the same approach on Merseyside, expect the game to be a low scoring affair.
Counting On Anfield
Any player, be it past or present, would tell you that Anfield is a different animal on European nights. Stepping onto the pitch, the cathedral of noise simultaneously makes opponents shrink while instilling confidence in the home team. Manchester City and Roma felt the full brunt of it last season, getting mauled 3-0 and 5-2 respectively. With PSG being the latest to fall victim this season, the Reds are never stronger when they play at home.
That home support will be of critical importance come Wednesday evening. In a game where chances will be at premium, the crowd simply have to patient. Supporters have to get behind their team when the going gets tough, for any negativity will kill off whatever momentum Liverpool have. With Red Star fans being banned from attending the game due to a UEFA punishment for pitch invasion in August’s Champions League qualifiers versus RB Salzburg, the Anfield faithful have to make full use of this opportunity to pump up the volume at Anfield.
Though they’ve had experience playing in front of noisy supporters back home in Serbia, they’ve yet to experience Anfield at it’s full might. Hopefully, Kopites will play their role as the 12th man to perfection when the two teams meet.
Fabinho To Start, Recall For Trent?
Before Saturday’s game against Huddersfield, Klopp told the press that Fabinho isn’t far away from being a regular starter. His 21 minute cameo at the John Smith’s Stadium didn’t harm his chances, where he put in a solid shift. Winning 2 tackles, making 1 interception, and having 16 touches, the Brazilian helped the Reds gain solidarity in midfield at a time when they were protecting a 1 goal lead.
With Henderson sustaining a hamstring problem against Huddersfield, Fabinho could start should Klopp decide against risking his captain. Possessing the experience of playing in Europe, there’s never been a better time to name Fabinho in the starting XI. That experience will serve the team well on a night where Liverpool are looking to grind out a result.
Also looking for a way back into the first team would be Trent Alexander-Arnold. Having had poor games against Southampton and Chelsea, the Scouser was benched in favour of Gomez recently. Against Manchester City, the move made sense as it provided the Reds with more solidarity at the back.
However, Gomez isn’t as adventurous as his fellow defender and doesn’t provide the same width on the right. One can argue that it’s exactly this reason that resulted in Liverpool having such few chances at Huddersfield, where Salah was left with too much to do on his own.
Against a team expected to sit deep, the game feels tailor made for Trent. With 1.1 crosses and 0.7 key passes per league game to complement with his ability to surge forward, the youngster can add incisiveness to Liverpool’s attack. Trent’s recall will also mean Gomez being shifted back to his preferred role at centre-back, where he has had an effective partnership with van Djik as of late. Reshuffling his back line in such a way will provide Klopp with more potency in the final third, while sacrificing none of the stability in defence.