Liverpool travel to Bulgaria tonight to face Ludogorets in a crucial Champions League clash. Rob Lyons looks at four talking points ahead of tonight’s match-up. Kick-off is at 7:45pm.
1. A Liverpool loss will likely end progression from Group B
It’s no secret Liverpool have been misfiring domestically and in Europe so far this season. Ludogorets is a match the Reds will be expected to win but after two defeats in a row to the European Champions Real Madrid it is now an uphill task for the Anfield outfit.
Anything other than a win makes it unlikely the Reds will progress from the group due to Basel – who are three points ahead of Liverpool – not only having a superior head-to-head record but also a better goal difference than Brendan Rodgers’ side. A win is a must for Liverpool.
2. Ludogorets caused problems in the past
Cast your mind back to the 16th of September when Liverpool faced up to Champions League opposition for the first time since the 2009/10 season.
Ludogorets didn’t have anywhere near the style and grace with which Liverpool played the ball around them but the message taken from that match was that Liverpool will not get anything easy from Ludogorets.
It took an injury time penalty to secure a 2-1 win last time. Reds fans will be hoping for an easier ride this time around.
3. Poor form
Having lost three games in a row in the Premier League, Liverpool come into tonight’s game with confidence at a low point this side hasn’t experienced for quite some time.
the Reds have conceded five goals in their last two games, scoring just two in return. There are problems all over the pitch, however defence is of course the Reds’ traditional weak point. This weakness is now being highlighted even further by the fact their forwards aren’t performing.
Their trip to Bulgaria however, affords Liverpool an opportunity to regain a bit of confidence in a game which, each and every player knows they should be winning.
4. Basel vs Real Madrid
Basel are at home to Real Madrid tonight and are Liverpool’s nearest rivals in the race for the coveted second place. Madrid technically need a point in order to definitely secure top spot, albeit with an almost insurmountable goal difference and wins against rivals Liverpool and Basel already.
Basel will be hopeful some complacency will set in at Madrid while Liverpool will be hoping the Spanish giants can do them a favour. The fact that Madrid have more or less guaranteed top spot is however worrying for Liverpool, knowing that there’s a slight chance Madrid could take their foot off the pedal.
If Basel sneak a win then it will look increasingly likely that Europa League football will lie in wait for the Reds.
Rob Lyons, Pundit Arena