Sports Mole previews Tuesday’s Champions League clash between Liverpool and Rangers, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.
Liverpool will be looking to make it two wins in a row in Europe when they host Rangers in Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday.
The visitors have lost both of their opening matches so can ill afford another defeat if they are to remain in the competition.
With their 2-1 win against Ajax last month representing Liverpool’s only win in their last four matches in all competitions, Jurgen Klopp may be relieved to have a European fixture on the horizon when Rangers visit Merseyside in midweek.
Klopp’s side showed great character to turn a 2-0 deficit on its head by leading Brighton & Hove Albion 3-2 at Anfield on Saturday, but the Reds could not hold onto a vital victory as Leandro Trossard sealed his hat-trick late on in the game.
The draw leaves Liverpool with only two wins from seven league games so far this season, but they will hope to make up ground on Napoli in Group A by beating Rangers on Tuesday.
With Napoli and Ajax facing each other back-to-back in the next two matchdays, Klopp will be targeting six points from their two matches against the Scottish Premiership and Europa League runners-up, who undoubtedly represent the weakest team in the group.
However, a team winning football matches as infrequently as Liverpool of late cannot afford any complacency to set in ahead of Tuesday’s fixture, even if they may not require their very best performance levels to claim a win.
That said, Rangers were ruthless in dispatching Hearts 4-0 away from home at the weekend, with Cameron Devlin‘s straight red card after 39 minutes leaving the hosts in a spot of bother considering Antonio Colak had already bagged a brace.
Alfredo Morelos and former Liverpool winger Ryan Kent wrapped up the victory after the break, but Giovanni van Bronckhorst‘s attentions will quickly return to Europe, where his side have failed to impress so far this campaign following a glorious run to the Europa League final last season.
It is Rangers’ first foray into the Champions League group stage in 12 years, though, and perhaps the step up in quality of opposition has been a shock to everyone connected to the club, especially having been placed within what many dubbed the ‘Group of Death’ after August’s draw.
The Gers were thrashed 4-0 away to Ajax in their first game before losing 3-0 to Napoli at Ibrox Stadium last time out, with James Sands‘s 55th-minute sending off for a bookable offence always making the Italians favourites to find a winner from that point onwards.
A trip to Anfield is not ideal for a team yet to claim their first point in the competition, but their out of sorts opponents could struggle to deal with van Bronckhorst’s side’s intensity, providing that they are at their usual standards in that regard.
Liverpool Champions League form:
Liverpool form (all competitions):
Rangers Champions League form:
Rangers form (all competitions):
Scotland left-back Andy Robertson, who grew up supporting Rangers’ fiercest rivals Celtic, will miss out on Tuesday’s tie with a knee issue, but he could make a return to Liverpool’s squad for the weekend’s trip to Arsenal.
Likewise, Ibrahima Konate is back in training but was absent from the Reds’ matchday squad against Brighton, and the France centre-back may be saved at this early stage of his recovery from a knee injury.
Naby Keita and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain remain long-term absentees, hence their exclusion from Liverpool’s Champions League squad, while Curtis Jones, Calvin Ramsay, Kaide Gordon and Caoimhin Kelleher are still expected to be sidelined.
Klopp is likely to make at least a few changes to his starting XI from the weekend, with Luis Diaz, Darwin Nunez, Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott all providing offensive options to freshen things up in what is set to be an extremely busy October for the 2018-19 European champions.
Rangers will travel without Sands, who must serve a one-match suspension following his dismissal against Napoli, with former Liverpool centre-back Ben Davies likely to partner Connor Goldson at the heart of the defence.
Morelos could replace Colak in attack in order to provide more industry and link-up play from that position, with Steven Davis likely to be called upon in midfield for his experience and calm head in possession.
John Souttar, Tom Lawrence, Filip Helander, Jon McLaughlin, Nnamadi Ofoborth, Ianis Hagi and Kemar Roofe are all unlikely to make the trip to Merseyside due to injury.
Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Van Dijk, Tsimikas; Elliott, Henderson, Thiago; Salah, Jota, Diaz
Rangers possible starting lineup:
McGregor; Tavernier, Goldson, Davies, Barisic; Lundstram, Davis, Jack; Tillman, Morelos, Kent
We say: Liverpool 3-0 Rangers
Liverpool should be able to cut loose against Rangers, who appear to be lacking quality to be able to properly compete in Group A.
Klopp’s side are clearly lacking confidence at present after a poor start to the season, but Tuesday’s tie could be the start of a long road to recovery for them.
For data analysis of the most likely results, scorelines and more for this match please click here.