The famous European nights at Anfield make a return on Tuesday as Liverpool face Paris Saint Germain in the first match of the Champions League group stage. The Anfield Talk’s Logan (@kidddlogan) previews Matchday 1 of the Liverpool’s Champions League campaign.
Who: Liverpool vs. PSG
When: Tuesday, September 18
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Time: 18:00 GMT, 3:00 EST
TV: BT Sport 2 (UK), TNT (US)
After the 2-1 victory against Spurs on Saturday, all eyes have turned to the Ligue 1 champions, PSG, as they travel to Anfield on Tuesday. Jurgen Klopp praised the Reds for their wonderful performance at Wembley, but admitted their performance in front of goal could have been a lot better. The Reds will have to be lethal in front of goal against PSG, if they want to come away with the victory.
The back five did rather well containing Spurs’ attack. However, did show some moments of shakiness when on the counter. Alisson was superb on the release balls once again and will be pivotal to jump-start the counter attack against an older PSG back line. Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were decent going forward once again, but Trent did get caught out a couple of times which Spurs failed to convert on. Both will have to be on high alert as Neymar and Kylian Mbappe will be running riot as they were rested on Friday.
Joe Gomez and Virgil van Dijk were outstanding once again this past weekend, keeping Harry Kane in their pockets. Gomez did have moments where he took wrong angles and got caught out, but the covering of TAA and James Milner came up big. The centre-back duo will have to contain the movement of Edinson Cavani, Mbappe, and Neymar. They will also have to be aware of Neymar and his silly diving tactics when in the penalty area.
The midfield was absolutely superb Saturday. Naby Keita, James Milner, and Gini Wijnaldum effectively won the game for the Reds. The pressure they were able to put on the Spurs back line caused a plethora of turnovers which led to many chances for the forwards.
A rotation of the midfield could be on the cards for Klopp, but I would love to see the same trio starting. If Klopp does decide to change the midfield, I think it would be time for Fabinho to enter for Wijnaldum in the six role. Fabinho knows this PSG team very well and could be a crucial asset against their attack.
The front three have been very generous to the opposition. The generation of chances has definitely not been an issue, but the finishing has. Sadio Mane and Mo Salah have been the biggest culprits of the lack of finishing thus far. Both are getting fabulous chances and are in the right positions, but that final touch has let them down. Tuesday’s matchup with PSG is the best time for them to find the touch.
A backline that comprises of Marquinhos and Thiago Silva is the perfect mix of lack of pace and age for this attack to get going. Roberto Firmino, coming off of his best game thus far, is starting to hit top gear which is very good news for this team.
Liverpool Team News
Roberto Firmino is likely ready to go for PSG after getting a finger in the eye fromm Jan Vertonghen on Saturday. He was released from a London hospitals Saturday afternoon and said he is fine. Daniel Sturridge will be next on the pecking order in case he is not able to play.
Dejan Lovren is still not fit enough to be in the squad on Tuesday.
Fabinho is likely set to get his competitive first start in the Reds shirt against a familiar PSG team.
PSG easily glided past St-Etienne on Friday in a 4-0 scoreline. Thomas Tuchel was able to rest Neymar for the matchup against Liverpool as he came back from international duty. Julian Draxler, Cavani, Angel Di Maria, and Moussa Diaby all netted for PSG in what was a very easy game for them. Tuchel has to expect that Liverpool will actually put up a fight unlike St-Etienne did.
Expect the same back line that featured on Friday to feature against Liverpool. Areola, a rather inexperienced goalkeeper, will be tested very early under the lights. It will be something that he has yet to see in his career thus far and it will be interesting if he can handle it. The pairing of Kimpembe and Silva will have to be something the Reds exploit. They both are sluggish on the ball and the high pressure will be something they struggle with. The full backs are going to have their hands full with Mane and Salah. Their movement this season has been superb and it’s going to be interesting if they are able to keep up with the wingers.
The midfield of PSG is going to be one of the key areas throughout the game. Marquinhos is expected to pushed up to the holding midfield role for the suspended Marco Verratti. If Marquinhos and co. are able to stop the quick counter attacks and dismantle the high pressure, then PSG will be able to enjoy time on the ball, something they thrive in when allowed. It is going to be very interesting who Tuchel decides to field alongside Marquinhos.
Newly reported Liverpool target, Adrien Rabiot, apparently is not rated by PSG’s board after the news circulating that he admires Liverpool. If Rabiot and Marquinhos are fielded alongside one another, expect Julian Draxler to be fielded in the attacking role just under Cavani. Tuchel could even put Neymar in the attacking role and move Di Maria to the left wing to utilize all of his attacking options. If he does opt to put Neymar in the central attacking midfield role, expect a formation change to a 4-2-3-1.
The iconic front three that the world has become accustomed to will be fielded under the lights at Anfield. Neymar, Cavani, and Mbappe will look to try to outshine Liverpool’s front three. Neymar and Mbappe did not feature against St-Etienne on Friday. Neymar was rested due to his recent arrival back from international duty. There was speculation that Tuchel rested him for the matchup on Tuesday, but Tuchel confirmed it was for his late return from international duty. Mbappe did not feature Friday due to his red card that came against Nimes. Both will be rested and ready to go for Tuesday. Cavani has featured in all of PSG’s games thus far and has started to find his form. He scored a spot kick on Friday and looks to continue to find the back of the net.
PSG Team News
Both Mbappe and Neymar will be coming back into the squad after not featuring Friday.
Marco Verratti and Gianluigi Buffon are both suspended for this matchup after incidents that occurred in the Champions League last season. Expect Marquinhos to push into the holding midfield role in place of Verratti.
The last time that these two met in a competitive match was in the 1997 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi finals. Liverpool went on to lose the tie by an aggregate scoreline of 3-2.
I think that this game will be a high scoring affair. Liverpool will be able to outlast this PSG team and win 3-2.