Conditions at Anfield seem perfect for goals
Spartak threats Ze Luis and Quincy Promes are back
Champions League Group E
BT Sport 2, 7.45pm Wednesday
A nice, quiet 0-0 draw is all that is required for Liverpool to go through to the last 16 of the Champions League – but Jurgen Klopp’s men tend not to do nice, quiet 0-0s.
Their ten matches since their one and only goalless draw have yielded 43 goals with the Reds responsible for 33 of them.
The prospect of a Merseyside derby is focusing minds in the city but the idea that Klopp can somehow undergo a total ideological transformation for one night only simply doesn’t add up.
There are goals whenever Liverpool leave the dressing room and this should be no different.
Backing both teams to score at 19-20 makes sense – it happened in Moscow and Spartak are a bright enough forward-looking outfit – but a punt on over 3.5 goals at 21-10 is preferred. Liverpool’s five ties have produced 22 goals with three of those hitting the four-goal mark.
Spartak – no matter what happens in the other Group E tie featuring Maribor and Sevilla – need to win at Anfield to go through. A draw does nothing for the Russians and with third place assured they can throw everything at this contest. Liverpool simply need to avoid defeat.
Events in Maribor would only become seriously relevant if the Spaniards and Spartak are both winning, a scenario that would generate panic in the Kop.
What the free-scoring Reds would like to do is take any risk out of proceedings by scoring early – preferably more than once – and putting any doubts to bed. That in turn would invite some sort of a response from Spartak.
Conditions seem perfect for goals and two of Spartak’s major attacking threats, Ze Luis and Quincy Promes, neither of whom played in the 1-1 draw at the Otkritiye Arena in September, will play this time.
Spartak also come into the game in a rich vein of form and scoring goals. They have won four in a row – the pick of them being a 4-1 success in Krasnodar, where few visiting teams prevail, and a 3-1 triumph over Zenit – and their last eight games have produced 30 goals.
Liverpool know they should have won in Moscow but Spartak will definitely be stronger this time and any side who can beat Sevilla 5-1 deserve respect. Two draws against Maribor are threatening to prove costly for Massimo Carrera’s boys, and are also the results which will fill Liverpool fans with confidence.
Liverpool go off 2-9 shots, which is far too short given the magnitude of the occasion and the pressure that comes with it. And they are a long way from the finished product They’ve conceded goals in 12 of their last 17 so remain far from watertight.
Attack has always been Klopp’s preferred form of defence and that should ensure a decent 90 minutes.
Over 3.5 goals
1pt 21-10 Betfair
Joel Matip joins fellow defender Nathaniel Clyne on the sidelines. Adam Lallana won’t be risked.
Left-back Dmitri Kombarov, centre-back Giorgi Tigiev and midfielder Jan Ananidze are out.
Since a 0-0 draw against Manchester United in October, Liverpool have scored 33 goals in ten games.
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