Liverpool will be hoping to keep pace with Group E leaders Napoli when they host Genk to Anfield in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.
The second half of the group stage of the UEFA Champions League begins this week with Matchday 4. Holders Liverpool will be in action at home on Tuesday when they welcome Genk to Anfield, looking to take a big step towards reaching the knockout phase.
After a slow start to their Champions League campaign, Liverpool are slowly getting back on track, especially after ending their away day blues last time out at Genk. And, after continuing their unbeaten start to the Premier League season this past weekend, the Reds will be in buoyant mood to translate that form in Europe as well.
Genk, on the other hand, are struggling in league and Europe. The Blaw-Wit are currently placed 8th on the Jupiler Pro League table after losing their fifth top-flight game of the season. In the Champions League, a third-placed finish in Group E looks like their best prospect for this term, although they languish at the bottom of the pile, at present.
The reverse fixture, played two weeks ago on Matchday 3, ended in a 4-1 win for Liverpool, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain scoring a match-winning brace. Ahead of the latest meeting between the two sides, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at the encounter.
Team News & Tactics
Jurgen Klopp does not have any fresh injury concerns to contend with ahead of the visit of Genk. On Tuesday, the Liverpool boss will continue to be bereft of the services of three first-team players, with Joel Matip being the major absentee for the Reds due to a knee injury.
In Matip’s absence, Dejan Lovren will continue to deputise at the heart of the Liverpool defence, partnering Virgil van Dijk. Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson are certain starters as the full-back pairing, and the duo will be the creative forces for the hosts from the flanks. Alisson is the resident goalkeeper for the Reds in Europe.
Up ahead in midfield, Fabinho is expected to return to the starting lineup after being saved from a booking last time out in the Premier League. Georginio Wijnaldum will be the workhorse in the middle of the park, with Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain likely to come into the side in place of Jordan Henderson, and will be in-charge of driving Liverpool forward.
The three-pronged attack picks itself, with Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane set to start again. Former Genk man Divock Origi, who has been in fine touch lately, will begin the game from the bench, where he will be the sole attacking backup.
Probable Lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Lovren, van Dijk, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mane
Felice Mazzu has just a couple of fitness troubles on his hands before his side pays Liverpool a visit. Danny Vukovic (achilles) and Jere Uronen (ankle) are the only two players who will miss out for Genk on Tuesday, with Mazzu having a full strength squad otherwise.
The Genk manager is expected to line his side up in a 4-4-2 formation, with Gaetan Coucke taking his place between the sticks for the visitors. Joakim Maehle will start on the right side of the Genk defence, with Casper De Norre filling in for Uronen on the left. Carlos Cuesta and Jhon Lucumi will form the central defensive partnership.
Sander Berge will be the key man in the middle of the park, with the young Norwegian tasked with keeping things tight in midfield. Patrik Hrosovsky will accompany Berge in central midfield and will look to link defence with attack.
Junya Ito and Theo Bongonda will supply the width from the flanks. Upfront, Paul Onuachu will have top scorer Mbwana Samatta as his strike partner after Samatta was rested for the game against KAS Eupen last weekend.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Coucke; Maehle, Cuesta, Lucumí, De Norre; Ito, Hrosovsky, Berge, Bongonda; Onuachu, Samatta
- Liverpool and Genk’s only previous meeting was on Matchday 3 of this season’s UEFA Champions League, with the Reds winning 4-1 at the Luminus Arena.
- Genk’s only away European visit to England was in October 2011, when they were beaten 5-0 at Stamford Bridge by Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League group stage.
- In all European competition, Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 23 games at Anfield (W17 D6) since losing 3-0 to Real Madrid in October 2014 in the Champions League.
- Genk have played more matches in the history of the European Cup/Champions League without winning than any other club (15 – D8 L7), with their 4-1 loss to Liverpool two weeks ago taking them ahead of Floriana FC and Shamrock Rovers, who both have 14 winless games.
- Jurgen Klopp has lost just two of his 19 home group stage matches in the Champions League (W14 D3), none of them as the Liverpool boss.
Player to Watch
After a difficult year of injury-enforced absence, Oxlade-Chamberlain is slowly finding his groove back, one that made him a key player for Liverpool in the run-up to the 2018 Champions League final. The signs were visible in the 4-1 win over Genk two weeks ago, when he scored two wonderful goals to inspire a straightforward win.
With Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson blowing hot and cold, another strong performance could help Oxlade-Chamberlain take a big step towards forcing Jurgen Klopp to hand him a bigger role as the season progresses. A key game for the Englishman.
Liverpool 3-0 Genk
Liverpool have been simply unstoppable at home in the UEFA Champions League for quite some time now. Genk are struggling this season and are unlikely to put up much of a fight, meaning the elusive clean sheet might well be there for the taking for Alisson Becker.
Expect Liverpool to be comfortable for much of the game, with Mohamed Salah possibly finding his way back to some form ahead of the crucial Premier League fixture against Manchester City. The Hard Tackle predicts a 3-0 win for Jurgen Klopp & co. with Genk suffering a second successive loss.