Liverpool return to Anfield tonight as European Champions, looking to gain their first points of this campaign against FC Red Bull Salzburg. This is the Reds first Champions League game at home since the spectacular comeback against Barcelona almost five months ago.
Liverpool began their defence of the European Cup with an unspectacular defeat in group E at the San Paolo Stadium courtesy of two late Napoli goals from Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente.
Controversy regarding VAR for the Mertens penalty overshadowed what would have been a disciplined away performance for Jurgen Klopp’s side.
However, on a hot, sticky evening in Italy, Liverpool squandered their best chances in front of goal with none of the front three possessing the ingenuity and precision to unlock Carlo Ancelotti’s side nor snatch anything from a counter attack.
Tonight, the Reds face a different opposition in the form of Austrain Champions RB Salzburg. Jesse Marsch’s side swept past Genk 6-2 in their first group game and have also started the season unbeaten domestically; winning eight and drawing one of their nine fixtures in the Austrain Bundesliga.
Their main danger man is nineteen-year-old Erling Haaland; who has 17 goals and 4 assists in just 10 games; form that has earned him links to Europe’s top sides.
Salzburg have a habit of developing young talented players, with two current Reds having donned the white and red in Austria; Sadio Mane and Naby Keita.
Mane played 61 games during his time in the Austrain Bundesliga scoring 31 goals before making the move to England with Southampton, whereas Keita joined Red Bull’s parent club Leipzig where he blossomed in Germany, suiting then manager Ralph Hasenhüttl’s aggressive counter pressing; redolent of current manager Jurgen Klopp.
Tonight’s match ends a run of four successive away games for Liverpool across all competitions, with their trip to Sheffield on Saturday protecting their unbeaten start to the Premier League season. However, it wasn’t to the expense of Joel Matip who picked up a ‘slight knock’ and will miss this evening’s game.
It is suggested that Joe Gomez will deputise for the tall Cameroonian who cemented his place in the starting XI when Gomez broke his leg against Burnley last December.
Fans are excited to see Gomez reunited with Virgil Van Dijk at the heart of the European Champions defence. The pair kept an impressive number of clean sheets at the start of last season but will they keep another tonight?