Liverpool host Besiktas in the first leg of the Round of 32 of the Europa League on Thursday night. The clash comes some seven years since their last meeting when the Reds won an 8-0 at Anfield, a record Champions League win till date.
Both sides dropped out into the Europa League with Liverpool getting eliminated at the group stage while the Turkish side failing to get past Arsenal in the qualifiers at the start of the season.
Having enjoyed the past two months, the stress of Thursday-Sunday fixtures starts for Brendan Rodgers who will have an eye on the crucial trip to St. Mary’s on Sunday.
Personnel changes are to be expected keeping in mind that game at the weekend and the likes of Mario Balotelli, Jordan Ibe and Dejan Lovren are expected to start.
Steven Gerrard and Raheem Sterling are carrying knocks and unlikely to be risked while Lucas will definitely miss out. Lazar Markovic is serving a four match suspension after getting sent off against Basel and won’t feature in this competition unless Liverpool make it to the quarter-finals.
Liverpool beat Crystal Palace in their last game to reach the last 8 of the FA Cup where they will face Blackburn Rovers. However, Rodgers will be keen to do well in the Europa League as well because of the prize of getting an automatic entry into the Champions League if they manage to win it.
The visitors come into the clash after Demba Ba scored a stoppage-time free-kick against Bursaspor in a 3-2 to keep a point clear at the top of the Turkish Super Lig after 20 games. They are in a very good form in recent months have won 11 of their last 12 games in the Super Lig and went undefeated in the group stages of the Europa League which consisted of Tottenham Hotspur, Partizan Belgrade, and Asteras Tripolis.
Along with Ba, former West Ham and Everton defender and current manager Slaven Bilic also returns to England along with former Chelsea and Arsenal youths players G khan T re and OAYuzhan zyakup.
Bilic’s men are very well drilled and organised displaying their grit in the narrow aggregate defeat against Arsenal before beating Spurs in Turkey and holding them to a 0-0 draw at White Hart Lane.
Striker Demba Ba has notched 18 goals in 20 starts this season and will be looking to score at Anfield once again after his infamous goal at the back end of last season.
Their first choice goalkeeper Tolga Zengin will be absent because of a knee injury so Cenk G nen who replaced him at the weekend should start. Ismail Koybasi and Alexander Milosevic will also miss out miss out through injuries.
Besiktas have failed to win just once in their last 12 league games.
Liverpool have lost just once in their 13 league games.
Besiktas are unbeaten in their last 7 matches in Europa League.
This promises to be a tight match which could be decided by the odd goal. Liverpool to win 1-0.