Liverpool will be in search of their first win of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League when they welcome Austrian giants Red Bull Salzburg to Anfield on Wednesday.
Reigning European champions Liverpool will be aiming to pick up their first victory of this season’s UEFA Champions League when they host Red Bull Salzburg for their second Group E encounter on Wednesday night.
Liverpool have made a blazing start to the Premier League season, but their bid to retain the Champions League trophy did not get off to the best start as they were beaten 2-0 by Napoli in their opening fixture. Since that loss, Jurgen Klopp’s men have won all their three matches, with the latest game ending in a hard-fought 1-0 win against Sheffield United.
The Reds will be keen on carrying that form into the continental competition and get off the mark on Wednesday. But, their task will not be made any easy by a Red Bull Salzburg side that are yet to be beaten in any competition in the 2019-20 campaign.
Indeed, the Austrian giants have won 11 of their 12 matches across all competitions this term and made an excellent start to their Champions League campaign, thrashing Belgian outfit Genk 6-2 in their first game. Red Bull Salzburg defeated Austria Wien 4-1 in their most recent fixture and manager Jesse Marsch will be hoping that his side are able to translate this form on their trip to England.
Ahead of this enticing match-up between the league leaders of England and Austria on Wednesday, we at The Hard Tackle take a closer look at both the sides.
Team News & Tactics
Goalkeeper Alisson Becker is back in training, but the midweek encounter is likely to come too soon for the Belgian international. Liverpool will also be without the services of Nathaniel Clyne and Xherdan Shaqiri, while they have also been hit with a fresh injury concern as Joel Matip is a major doubt for the game.
With Alisson not ready for a return, Adrian will continue to deputise between the sticks on Wednesday. There should be just one change in defence, with Joe Gomez set to replace the injured Matip. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson and Virgil van Dijk are guaranteed starters in the Reds’ backline.
There are unlikely to be any changes in the middle of the park, with Fabinho holding on to his spot as the anchorman, while captain Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum will play on either side of him. Naby Keita, a former Red Bull Salzburg player, could play some part from the bench, while James Milner is another option for Klopp.
Another former Red Bull Salzburg star Sadio Mane is a surefire starter on the left flank on Wednesday. He should continue to be partnered by regular attacking partners Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, with Divock Origi providing an option from the bench.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Adrian; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Red Bull Salzburg
The visitors will be without the services of goalkeeper Alexander Walke and midfielder Antoine Bernede. Teenage sensation Erling Haaland should be available, having recovered from illness, while Marin Pongracic and Hee-Chan Hwang are also expected to in contention for selection.
Known for their aesthetically pleasing, attacking style of football, RB Salzburg are expected to line up in a 4-4-2 formation, despite trying a three-man backline in their most recent fixture.
In goal, they will be relying on Cican Stankovic to keep the Reds’ attackers at bay, who will be guarded by a defence comprising of Rasmus Kristensen and captain Andreas Ulmer as the full-backs, with Maximilian Wober and Andre Ramalho partnering at the centre.
The responsibility of stifling Liverpool in the middle of the park will fall to seasoned campaigner Zlatko Junuzovic. With Bernede not available, the 32-year-old is likely to be partnered by Zambian midfielder Enock Mwepu against the reigning champions.
Japanese winger Takumi Minamino should line up on the right side of the midfield while teenager Dominik Szoboszlai should occupy the opposite flank. Teenage sensation Haaland should start in the two-pronged attack and is likely to be paired up with Hee-Chan Hwang.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Stankovic; Kristensen, Ramalho, Wober, Ulmer; Minamino, Mwepu, Junuzovic, Szoboszlai; Hwang, Haaland
- This is the first time that Liverpool and Red Bull Salzburg will be clashing against each other. Liverpool have won four of their six previous matches against Austrian sides in Europe (W4 D1 L1), losing their most recent match to Grazer AK in a Champions League qualifier in August 2004.
- Red Bull Salzburg are winless in four matches in all competitions versus English teams, failing to score three times (D1 L3).
- Liverpool last lost at Anfield in European competitions in October 2014, against Real Madrid in the Champions League (0-3). Since then they have won 16 and drawn six times.
- Red Bull Salzburg have only lost once in their last 17 away group stage games in Europe, all of which came in the Europa League (W12 D4 L1).
- Liverpool could be only the second reigning champion of the European Cup/UEFA Champions League to lose their first two matches of the following campaign, after Nottingham Forest in 1980-81.
Player to Watch
There are few hotter properties in football currently than Red Bull Salzburg’s 19-year-old striker Erling Haaland. The teenage marksman made history in the Austrian outfit’s opening UEFA Champions League game against Genk, as he went on to score three goals to become the youngest player since Wayne Rooney to mark his Champions League debut with a hat-trick.
Someone who has shown all requisite attributes to become a top-class striker at such a young age, Haaland has already plundered 17 goals in 10 matches this term, including four hat-tricks.
The Norwegian, who has been with linked with the likes of Barcelona and Manchester United, will face the biggest test of his career till date against Ballon d’Or contender Virgil van Dijk. And should he come out on top at Anfield on Wednesday, Haaland will well and truly have announced that he is ready to step up to the big stage.
Liverpool 2-1 Red Bull Salzburg
Liverpool’s European campaign was off to a disappointing start against Napoli and they will be out to get their first win of the competition on Wednesday night. But, they will be put through a stern test by Red Bull Salzburg who are unbeaten in all competitions this season and began their Champions League journey with a 6-2 thrashing of Genk.
The Liverpool defence has looked vulnerable at times this season and in Hee-Chan Hwang and an in-form Erling Haaland, the visitors have the firepower to hurt the hosts while going forward. However, the Reds themselves boast of a superlative attacking department led by former Salzburg star Sadio Mane.
It promises to be an enticing battle between two sides that will take the game to each other, meaning there shouldn’t be any shortage of chances on the night. However, given Liverpool’s excellent record at Anfield, they should prevail against Red Bull Salzburg, handing them their first defeat of the 2019-20 season.