It’s the battle of Britain as English Premier League runners-up Liverpool host Scottish Premiership runners-up Rangers in the UEFA Champions League at Anfield. These rivals share Group A, and despite this being the third round of matches, the pool remains fiercely competitive, with both teams still having all to play for. The winner of the three points available on Tuesday evening will seriously boost their chances of progressing to the knockout stages, ensuring Champions League football for the new year.
Liverpool is the home team here, and Anfield will be packed to capacity with the majority of fans in attendance decked out in red and there to support the home win. But Rangers won’t be friendless in the stadium, with the travelling bears making their voices heard. The Scots always travel in huge numbers, and with this game being so close to Glasgow, less than a five-hour drive, you’ll see plenty in blue and white with Liverpool city centre bracing itself for an invasion.
How will these sides fare on the field of play, and which team will get the desired result, landing the three points? Looking through the history books, we note that Liverpool and Rangers aren’t exactly familiar opponents. Still, both Jurgen Klopp and Giovanni van Bronkhorst will be up to speed on the strengths and weaknesses of their opponents. Liverpool is the hot favourites for victory, supported by just about every respected pundit of the game, but we can’t write off last season’s Europa League runners-up.
Slow start for the Reds
Liverpool was expected to win this group at a canter, securing their place in the next round with time to spare, allowing them to focus on an upcoming frantic few weeks in the English Premier League. Both the EPL and Champions League are being pushed through, hurried along to make room for the FIFA World Cup, which takes place in Qatar between November and December. That means, with a few weeks left of the year, when the EPL would usually be at top speed, fixtures have been postponed until next year.
The home team can still achieve that and are in the running to win this group, contest the trophy and also put pressure on the leaders in England. But to give themselves the best possible chance of going through to the next round, the Reds must secure all three points at Anfield when Rangers come calling. The home team are currently second in Group A with three points collected from the first six available to them. They started with a defeat against current leaders Napoli before beating Ajax on matchday two. The Italians have six points, Liverpool and Ajax on three, and Rangers still to get off the mark.
Klopp and co warmed up for this game with a pulsating draw at home to Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday. That was a fixture they were expected to win but did well to come away from the contest with a share of the spoils after the Seagulls flew into an early lead. Brighton were two goals to the good inside 17 minutes but needed a late equaliser from hattrick hero Trossard to rescue a point and stop their opponent’s impressive fightback. Klopp will want to see better from his defence on Tuesday.
Gers eager to get off the mark
Rangers make the trip south without a point on the board following back-to-back defeats in their opening two Champions League games. They started with a trip to Ajax, and after beating PSV Eindhoven in a qualifier, fans had high hopes of springing a surprise. They went to Amsterdam in numbers but were forced to sit through a horror show as the Dutch champions dismantled the Scots. Ajax hit the front early and never looked back, enjoying complete control of the game and bagging all three points without ever hitting top gear.
Things went from bad to worse for Rangers as Napoli beat them on matchday two at Ibrox. It was a special occasion in Govan as the Italian Serie A side arrived, and they showed their class, eventually breaking the resistance of their opponents. Napoli was patient – something we have come to expect from Italian sides – and they probed and prodded while Rangers stood firm. They eventually found a way through and, with Rangers reduced to 10 men, the game was as good as over, with Napoli seeing it out.
Rangers were last in action on Saturday afternoon when dealing with a confident Hearts side in the capital. The Gers had a chance to go top of the league while an in-form Hearts knew they could move into second place with the right result at Tynecastle, but there was no denying the deserving winner of the points. Rangers destroyed Hearts, winning 4-0 while resting a few players with the aim of keeping them fresh for Tuesday. This included strikers Alfredo Morelos and Antonio Colak.
Liverpool v Rangers prediction
Liverpool has the better team – certainly on paper – and the home advantage will further boost their chances of winning this match. The likes of Mo Salah and Virgil van Dijk will be key to Liverpool’s success because these experienced players will be asked to step up to the plate and deliver on what will be a passionate evening played out before an electric atmosphere. Their best should be enough for the home team.
Rangers are here to cause an upset, and although they can’t afford to go on the attack from the first whistle and meet their hosts blow for blow, they do have to win the game. A point wouldn’t be a bad result, but if Rangers lose this match, they will face exit from the group after a minimum of six matches. That’s something the club wants to avoid at all costs.
Champions League odds
22bet members can place a bet on the winner of this match, with Liverpool trading at odds of 1.135 while Rangers can be backed at 17 and the draw 8.9.
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