Yesterday evening’s fixtures marked the start of the third round of the Champions League group stage. Tonight, Liverpool face Group C’s underdogs Red Star Belgrade at Anfield in what is a must win game for the Merseyside club. The group is currently very well poised, with Napoli sitting on top with four points, whilst Liverpool and PSG find themselves in second and third with three points each. After a disappointing 1-0 loss to Napoli in their second game, maximum points against Red Star Belgrade in both matches will be key if Jürgen Klopp’s Reds wish to qualify from the group.
Well Rested Reds
Jürgen Klopp’s decision to rest some key players at the weekend for Liverpool’s fixture at the John Smith’s Stadium against Huddersfield could prove to be a very shrewd piece of team management. Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Daniel Sturridge and Xherdan Shaqiri all started in The Reds’ 1-0 triumph, allowing the likes of Georgino Wijnaldum, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Roberto Firmino to have a deserved rest following an intense start to the 2018/19 season.
This potential injection of fresh players will hopefully provide Jürgen Klopp’s team with a much-needed impetus that has recently appeared to be lacking on a domestic level, with Liverpool scoring just sixteen goals thus far in the Premier League. This time last season, The Reds had already scored twenty-one goals in a free-flowing attacking system.
Return of the Golden Trio
Sadio Mané could also return to the starting line-up following his recent hand injury during the international break. Yes, that’s correct. Liverpool can potentially field all three of their devastating attack against Red Star Belgrade. And we all know what can happen when the three of them get firing in Europe. Last season, the trio scored a total of thirty goals during Liverpool’s Champions League run, as they became the first ever front three to score ten goals each in a Champions League campaign.
Whilst trying not to disrespect any Red Star Belgrade fans, tonight’s game could potentially see the return of the scintillating football that was such a joy to watch during last season’s European games.
Fabinho’s Time to Shine
Jordan Henderson had to be removed from the field during Liverpool’s victory against Huddersfield at the weekend, after complaining of a tight hamstring. With the Liverpool captain injured for at least the next two games, Fabinho’s chance to establish himself as The Reds’ first choice number six could well be here.
The Brazilian put in an impressive cameo performance against Huddersfield on Saturday in his Premier League debut. His ability to win headers and unlock Liverpool’s attacking players with incisive passes was crucial in maintaining The Reds’ lead against a hungry and sometimes threatening Huddersfield side.
If selected by Klopp, the ex-Monaco player will look to dictate the play against Red Star Belgrade tonight. His range of passing will prove to be a huge asset for Liverpool, with The Reds’ having lacked a player able to pick out the likes of Salah, Firmino and Mané with long balls over the top of oppositions’ defences so far this season.
A Red Star Catalyst?
Whilst Liverpool’s season has started extremely well, certain performances have lacked a certain something going forwards. As long as Red Star Belgrade don’t park the bus from the opening minute, I believe that this game could be the game for Liverpool’s attack to rediscover their form and regain their confidence in front of goal. After last season’s 7-0 victory against Maribor, Liverpool went on to score thirty-three goals in their next eleven games.
Regardless of this statistic, let’s hope for an absolute thrashing tomorrow.