Liverpool will face a tough test in the opening fixture of their Champions League group when they host Sevilla at Anfield on Wednesday (19:45 BST, live on BT Sport).
Liverpool and Sevilla are respectively the third and second seeds in Group E but on reputation and talent, and in the eyes of the bookies, they should be expected to progress ahead of first seed Spartak Moscow and fourth seed Maribor.
The real battle to be fought is over which of them will progress as group winners, which potentially provides an easier path through the first knockout round. With that in mind, both teams will be keen to strike an early blow by securing victory on Wednesday.
Liverpool come into the match on the back of a disappointing 0-5 defeat to Manchester City on Saturday. They had the better of the majority of the first half but failed to take advantage of some good situations in and around the area. Sergio Aguero put their hosts ahead on 24 minutes and the trajectory of the match changed completely when Sadio Mane was sent off for a high challenge on the City goalkeeper Ederson. Four more goals followed.
Klopp was keen to make sure his players were not overly deflated by the result in the aftermath of the match, particularly given that it came just a couple of weekends after their impressive 4-0 mauling of Arsenal. While the manner in which his side collapsed after going down to 10 men was concerning, the performance prior to that provided reasons for optimism.
As the two-year anniversary of his appointment fast approaches, Klopp has Liverpool playing the way he wants them to, but they still look in need of fine-tuning at both ends of the pitch before they can be serious challengers for league or Champions League glory. They need to be more clinical when they get into good positions in the final third and while their press largely constricts opponents, they still give up a few too many high-quality chances.
Klopp has said that Philippe Coutinho will return to the squad for Wednesday’s match after the club successfully held off interest in him from Barcelona. From the start or off the bench, his inventiveness may very well be needed given that Liverpool have lost as many matches as they’ve won at home (five) to Spanish opposition in European competition.
Opponents Sevilla have a mixed record against English teams. They were eliminated by Leicester City in last season’s round of 16 and have failed to record victory in five visits to England in European competition, drawing twice and losing on three occasions. But they secured the 2006 UEFA Cup with a win over Middlesbrough in the final and more pertinently, defeated Liverpool 3-1 in the 2016 Europa League final in Basel.
There are, however, few holdovers from that side in the current squad. Sevilla are a team who consistently sell their best performers and then reinvest the money in another set of players whose values they can build up. It is therefore not particularly surprising that of the 11 starters and seven substitutes that day, less than half remain at the club.
Sevilla were very active in the summer transfer market. They signed nine new players, including €20-million forward Luis Muriel, but they still brought in over €10 million more than they spent. New coach Eduardo Berizzo has good depth in most positions and while their first XI is probably at a similar level to last season, the squad certainly looks stronger. Former Manchester City pair Jesus Navas and Nolito are among the new arrivals.
Berizzo has a similar style to previous coach Jorge Sampaoli but Sevilla haven’t hit the ground running. They scraped past Istanbul Basaksehir, 4-3 on aggregate, in their Champions League qualifier, drew their league opener and then recorded a somewhat fortunate 1-0 win away to Getafe prior to the international break. They do, however, come into Wednesday’s match on the back of a comprehensive 3-0 win over Eibar on Saturday.
Berizzo admitted afterwards that Liverpool will provide sterner opposition but also noted that his side will benefit from Liverpool playing more than a half of football with 10 men. He, on the other hand, was able to rest some key players on Saturday, which should see Sevilla arrive at Anfield fresh and ready to cause their hosts problems.
It is likely to be a fast, frenetic and open game, with plenty of goalmouth action at both ends. An entertaining, high-scoring draw seems the most probable outcome.
Our Preview’s Liverpool v Sevilla Betting Tips Verdict
Having sifted through the options available with our top recommended online bookmakers, here are our preview’s betting tips for this Champions League match:
- Back the draw @ best odds of 16/5 with Betfred.
- Bet on the second half to be the highest scoring half @ 20/21 with Bet365.
Compare Liverpool v Sevilla Match Betting Odds from Best Bookies