Liverpool will look to make another memorable comeback in the 2nd leg of the Europa League tie against Zenit. Will it it be one of those memorable nights at Anfield?
Liverpool will host Zenit St Petersburg in the second leg of the Europa League clash at Anfield tonight. The Reds have a mountain to climb in the return leg having conceded two goals in the first leg and even more significantly they were unable to find the crucial away goal.
It has been a stop-start season for Brendan Rodgers’ men. Their win against Swansea in the last match was only their second victory in the last eight matches – a run which has seen them get knocked out of the FA cup and concede a big lead to Zenit in the first leg. The Europa League represents Liverpool’s only hope of silverware this season, although it would hardly be their priority right now.
But their performance against Swansea has once again proved how much potential this Liverpool team holds within themselves. That 5-0 thrashing of Swansea, who have been phenomenal this season under Michael Laudrup, should provide the players with enough confidence ahead of tonight’s clash.
Zenit on the other hand, can play the waiting game in this tie and hope to clinch a goal on the counter. The Russians have a potent attack which can be very effective while playing on the break.
Liverpool Team News
Martin Skrtel is doubtful for this clash after the defender suffered a blow in training. It seems like the Slovakian international will miss this match against his former team. Jamie Carragher will start in the center of defence in his place alongside Agger.
Fabio Borini’s name has once again been added to the long-term injury list after the forward suffered a dislocated shoulder during a collision in the match against Swansea. New recruits Coutinho and Sturridge are ineligible to participate in this competition for Liverpool this season – given the form Sturridge was in, it is a big loss for Liverpool.
Expected Starting Line-up (4-2-3-1): Reina; Johnson, Agger, Carragher, Enrique; Lucas, Gerrard; Suso, Henderson, Downing; Suarez.
The Liverpool players have called on the fans to amplify the atmosphere and get behind their team and they plan on another European comeback. Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers was no different. The former Swansea manager remembered the famous ‘ghost goal’ scored by Luis Garcia which took them to the Champions League final. Rodgers was part of the Chelsea backroom staff back then and agrees with Mourinho who said that it was the crowd who scored the goal. Rodgers hopes that the crowd can reproduce that atmosphere once again tonight.
“It wasn’t a goal but it was the sheer force of the crowd that got the goal. The bottom line was that the referee gave it and it was under massive influence, there is no doubt about that. The atmosphere at Anfield was as good as you will ever get and the crowd will be so important for us now.
“The legend of Liverpool has been based on nights like these – big games and comebacks. If we can get that result, then that for sure is another signpost in terms of where this group is going.” – Rodgers said.
Zenit St Petersburg Team News
The Russian side is unlikely to make any changes to the starting eleven that faced Liverpool in the first leg, although Sergei Semak, who scored the second goal in the first leg, might get a start ahead of Danny. Domenico Criscito is back in training for Zenit, but is unlikely to start in such a crucial match due to lack of match-fitness.
Expected Starting Line-up (4-3-3): Malafeev; Anyukov, Neto, Lombaerts, Hubocan; Witsel, Shirokov, Denisov; Hulk, Kerzhakov, Danny
Zenit manager Luciano Spalletti is well aware of Liverpool’s capability of staging a comeback in big matches. He seemed cautious and has urged his team to forget about the two goal lead. Spalletti has also pointed out the fact that Liverpool will have most of the possession and they will have to defend deep in this match.
“We have to play the game as if it was 0-0 in the first game. We have to forget about the 2-0 scoreline. We will have to control the match better and not pass the initiative to Liverpool too much. We need to be particularly prepared – Liverpool have a very good reputation for scoring in serious matches. Often having lost the first leg they have overcome the obstacle and gone on to win. Liverpool may push us back but we are going to follow the same tactics and strategy as last week.” – Spalletti was quoted in press.