It is make or break for Liverpool in terms of their future in this season’s Champions League, as they must defeat Swiss champions Basel at Anfield to advance to the last 16.
Conceding a late equaliser in their last European game against Ludogorets was disappointing, but it did not change the permutations for this final match day in Group B, as the Reds sit two points behind their opponents and still with a chance of qualifying despite labouring and only winning one of their five matches so far.
Patience could be key for the Reds, but a strong performance would not go amiss, particularly as they have consistently disappointed in front of their home fans throughout the season so far. The turgid goalless draw with Sunderland on Saturday was another example, so with the backing of a passionate crowd, manager Brendan Rodgers will be demanding better.
A place in the Europa League is what awaits Liverpool if they fail, and Basel will be more than confident of condemning them to that fate, despite not possessing as strong a squad as they have in recent seasons.
They will also remember fondly an evening in 2002 when they knocked the Merseyside club out of this competition at the same stage, the first of many notable scalps they have claimed since the turn of the century – a list that also includes Manchester United in 2011.
Steven Gerrard will be restored to the Liverpool starting XI for this vital clash, while Fabio Borini could make the bench. However, this game comes too soon for Mario Balotelli and Mamadou Sakho.
Think you know your football? Share your knowledge, tips and comments to win cash prizes in OLBG’s