Champions League nights are all set to return to Anfield after a hiatus of five years. Brendan Rodgers’s Liverpool side overcame all odds last season to punch above their waist and chase the eventual Champions Manchester City all the way to the finish line, and the reward has come in the form of Europe’s most elite competition returning to one of European football’s greatest venues.
With Real Madrid and Basel also drawn in their group, Liverpool will look to get off to a flying start against a team dubbed as the whipping boys of the group, Bulgarian side Ludogorets. Let’s take a look at the team Brendan Rodgers may trust to get the job done on Tuesday.
Mignolet will continue between the sticks with no serious competition for his place. The Belgian goalkeeper will play his first ever match in the Champions League.
Javier Manquillo, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren, Alberto Moreno.
Glen Johnson looks off the pace and seems a liability at times. So, Manquillo is all set to be preferred over the experienced Englishman.
Martin Skrtel thrives on these big-match occasions at Anfield and Tuesday night should be no different for the no-nonsense defender.
Dejan Lovren was the subject of a £20m move from Southampton and should start alongside Skrtel in defence.
Alberto Moreno had a game to forget against Manchester City, but scored a goal against Tottenham and looks increasingly assured with every game.
Henderson, Gerrard, Coutinho.
Jordan Henderson is the engine that drives Liverpool from back to front. And his chemistry with Steven Gerrard in the middle of the park could well define Liverpool’s chances in Europe this season.
Steven Gerrard seems to be relishing his quarterback role under Brendan Rodgers and would once again look to dictate the pace of the game from his deeper role.
Philippe Coutinho’s creativity could well be the key to unlock the defence of a team who are most likely to park the bus right from the first whistle. The Brazilian will start just in behind the frontman.
Adam Lallana, Mario Balotelli, Raheem Sterling.
Lallana should retain his place in the side despite the disappointment against Villa, and the England man will get a great opportunity to announce himself to the Kop.
Raheem Sterling already has two goals to his name this season, and seems to have picked up where he left off last season. He is sure to be a menace all night long for the minnows from Bulgaria.
Mario Balotelli, his temperament kept aside, is more than a capable replacement for the injured Daniel Sturridge. The question is, which Mario will turn up? Super Mario or the ever-sulking Mario?