Spartak Moscow vs Liverpool: Champions League Preview

Match Preview Liverpool

Liverpool got back to winning ways at the weekend by beating Leicester City 3-2. This was their first win in four matches in all competitions and it couldn’t have come at a better time as they face a daunting trip to Russia this evening. An away tie with reigning Russian Premier League champions, Spartak Moscow awaits them, and considering their 2-2 draw with Sevilla on matchday 1, they will want nothing less than all three points this time around. Moscow drew with Maribor in their opening fixture, so if either side takes the win, it will put them in a very commanding position in the group.

Liverpool Team News

Loris Karius returns to the starting line up having been officially named as the first choice Champions League goalkeeper. He’ll want a much better performance this time out though after his shaky display against Sevilla, where he let the Spaniards score from both of their two shots on target. Another poor showing from the German here and Simon Mignolet could be called upon for the home tie against Maribor.

Joe Gomez will miss out after his injury time sending off against Sevilla, so Trent Alexander-Arnold will come in in his place. Alexander-Arnold scored an impressive free-kick on his CL debut against Hoffenheim, but with Philippe Coutinho back in the side, it is unlikely he’ll get a chance to replicate it tonight. Dejan Lovren is back to full fitness after playing at the weekend, so we should see Lovren and Joel Matip in the centre of defence. Alberto Moreno had an excellent game against Sevilla, so should retain his starting spot on the left side of defence.

Liverpool will likely come out in a 4-2-3-1 formation, giving them the chance to play with two holding midfielders. With both Jordan Henderson and Emre Can sitting in front of the defensive line this should stop them getting stretched out at the back and make them less susceptible to the counter attack.

For the first time, Jurgen Klopp will have all four of his best attacking options at his disposal. Sadio Mane is eligible after missing English domestic games through suspension, although that three-match ban is completed now. He’ll likely play on the opposite wing to Mohammed Salah, with Coutinho between them in a CAM position. As always, Roberto Firmino will play up front as a converted striker. It should be really exciting to see these four play together and hopefully a taste of things to come for the remainder of this season.

Predicted Lineup: Karius; Moreno, Lovren, Matip, Alexander-Arnold; Can, Henderson; Salah, Coutinho, Mane; Firmino.

Spartak Moscow Team News

By their very high standards, Spartak Moscow have had a poor start to their season. The reigning champions have won just three of their opening 11 matches and sit at eighth position, in the middle of the table. Although they are unbeaten in their last six matches in all competitions, four of those have been draws so the form record isn’t all that impressive. They’ve also failed to win in any of their last eight European fixtures.

The Russian side have been struggling with several injuries so far this year and it got even worse at the weekend. Jano Ananidze, the dangerous attacking midfielder, had to be pulled off in the first half of Saturday’s game and he will miss the matchup tonight. Other key players that are missing include Roman Zobnin, Denis Glushakov and Ze Luis.

There is some good news for Spartak however, as Quincy Promes, a former Liverpool target, could return to action tonight. The Dutch winger was rested at the weekend as he looked to recover from a calf injury that he suffered the week before. At this stage, it is 50/50 whether or not he will be available, but Spartak will take any positives they can get.

Spartak Moscow have switched between a four and five-man defence this season, but I’d expect them to opt for a five at the back approach tonight. With the pace and skill of Liverpool’s attacking line up, the home side may need every available option to help them deal with the dangers. Therefore, Georgi Dzhikiya could come into centre back, to help boost their defensive capabilities.

Predicted Lineup: Rebrov; Kombarov, Bocchetti, Dzhikiya, Tasci, Eshchenko; Promes, Fernando, Pasalic, Samedov; Adriano.

The atmosphere in Moscow will be notoriously hostile and Liverpool will have a difficult job to do to shut that all out. Although it may take them a little while to find their feet in the game, I’d expect them to come through and just edge it. An important 2-1 win for Liverpool is my prediction.