Liverpool travel to Austria on Tuesday seeking Champions League qualification, knowing a draw would be enough to send them through to the last 16.
Following their 1-1 home draw with Napoli in their last Group E match, the Reds have to get a positive result against RB Salzburg or face being chucked out of the competition far earlier than expected, barring a Napoli defeat at home to Genk.
Liverpool have won their last three matches in the Premier League but will be wary of the talents of Salzburg, who netted three times at Anfield back in early October.
The hosts know they need a victory against Liverpool to qualify for the next round and will be buoyed by their Champions League success so far this season. The standout performer for the Austrian side has to be Erling Braut Håland, who has scored eight goals in his first five Champions League matches at only 19 years of age.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?
||Tuesday 10 December
|What Time Is Kick Off?
|Where Is It Played?
||Red Bull Arena
|TV Channel/Live Stream?
||BT Sport 3
Liverpool are still without long-term absentees Fabinho and Nathaniel Clyne, while Joel Matip is several weeks away from his return.
Dejan Lovren was substituted through injury in Liverpool’s 3-0 weekend victory over Bournemouth, while Georginio Wijnaldum and Adam Lallana missed the trip through fitness concerns. However, all three players could return for this clash.
Meanwhile, Salzburg are without Antoine Bernede, Patrick Farkas, Sekou Koita and Alexander Walke for the tie.
||Stankovic; Kristensen, Onguene, Wober, Ulmer; Mwepu, Junuzovic, Szoboszlai, Minamino; Daka, Håland
||Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Gomez, Van Dijk, Robertson; Henderson, Wijnaldum, Oxlade-Chamberlain; Salah, Mane, Firmino
The previous match between these two sides was their first competitive clash – a thrilling 4-3 victory for Liverpool back on 2 October.
Liverpool went three goals up in that victory at Anfield, before Salzburg remarkably flipped the game on its head levelling the score at 3-3. Mohamed Salah eventually got the Reds’ winner but it was a very nervy affair for the current European champions.
Liverpool will be in high spirits heading in to this all or nothing encounter, sitting eight points clear at the top of the Premier League table and having won 15 of their 16 league matches this season. Their two most recent victories saw Jurgen Klopp rest key figures, however Liverpool still blitzed their opponents beating Everton 5-2 and Bournemouth 3-0.
The Reds’ Champions League form has been slightly less impressive, winning three, drawing one, and losing one of their five group stage games. More worryingly, the English league leaders haven’t kept a clean sheet in Europe this term, and their shutout on Saturday was only their fourth of the season.
Salzburg also find themselves in fine form, leading the A.Bundesliga table after 17 matches and standing undefeated since their loss at the hands of Napoli back in late October. Despite having won their last league match 5-1, Salzburg haven’t kept a clean sheet in four games and are yet to record one in the Champions League group stages.
Here are both side’s last five results:
|Salzburg 5-1 WSG Swarovski Tirol (7/12)
||Bournemouth 0-3 Liverpool (7/12)
|Admira 1-1 Salzburg (1/12)
||Liverpool 5-2 Everton (4/12)
|Genk 1-4 Salzburg (27/11)
||Liverpool 2-1 Brighton (30/11)
|Salzburg 2-2 SKN St. Poelten (23/11)
||Liverpool 1-1 Napoli (27/11)
|Wolfsberger 0-3 Salzburg (10/11)
||Crystal Palace 1-2 Liverpool (23/11)
While Liverpool come in to this game as clear favourites to qualify, Salzburg should not be underestimated. The Austrian side made life incredibly difficult for the Reds in the reverse fixture, and Liverpool’s defensive frailties may be exploited.
However, Liverpool do have plenty of Champions League pedigree, finding themselves in a similar situation last season – having to beat Napoli on the final matchday – and they consistently find a way to win under pressure.
One thing is for sure…goals. Both sides score plenty and struggle defensively (as was demonstrated in the last game between the pair), so this should be a rollercoaster ride.
Prediction: RB Salzburg 2-3 Liverpool