Liverpool face Red Bull Salzburg on Wednesday night needing a win to kick-start their Champions League campaign.
Having begun their defence of the competition with a bitter opening 2-0 defeat to Napoli a fortnight ago, a positive result at Anfield has turned into a must for Jurgen Klopp’s side in their quest to qualify for the knockout stage.
Whilst Liverpool were to leave Naples frustrated for the second successive season, Salzburg visit the home of the reigning European champions in buoyant spirits following their 6-2 home thrashing of Genk in their first game of Group E.
Erling Braut Haland in particular caught the watching eye of scouts all over Europe as he stole the headlines by scoring a first-half hattrick.
The 19-year-old hotshot has already bagged 11 goals in only eight matches in the Austrian Bundesliga this season and he is the evident danger man for Jesse Marsch’s side.
Tasked with stopping him will likely be the defensive combination of Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez.
Joel Matip’s stunning form has cemented his position in central defence next to the towering Dutchman, but a small knock suffered in the win over Sheffield United at the weekend has ruled him out of the game paving the way for Gomez to be reinstated into the starting eleven.
Liverpool’s attempts to continuously play a much higher line this season has seen many opposition teams seek to take advantage and Haland’s menacing runs in behind caused plenty of problems for the Genk backline.
Gomez’s recovery speed can be seen as an ideal counter to the threat of the Norwegian striker and it is going to be an intriguing game-long battle.
Alongside Matip the Reds will also be without the services of Xherdan Shaqiri who remains sidelined.
Alisson Becker is getting closer to a return to first-team action, but the visit of Salzburg will come too soon for the Brazilian.
Klopp has revealed that Alisson’s first appearance since his opening day injury to Norwich City will likely be against Manchester United after the international break.
Although Salzburg can not be taken lightly following their scintillating display on matchday one, competition for places and Liverpool’s gruelling schedule over the next month in the Premier League could see Klopp opt to rotate some of the regular starters.
Notably in midfield the likes of James Milner, Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain could stake a strong claim to start.
Liverpool are unbeaten at Anfield in the Champions League since their return to the competition in 2017 and will be seeking to extend that record tonight.
Elsewhere in Group E Napoli travel to Genk in one of the two early evening kick-off’s at 5:55pm.