Liverpool travel to Switzerland to face Basel in a match that will define the rest of the group for the English side; a victory or draw keeps them on track on for the knockout stages, but a defeat will see things get a bit hairier for Brendan Rodgers.
Basel are, unsurprisingly to the outside eye, top of the Swiss league after 10 matches leading second place Zurich by 22 points to 20. The Swiss side struggled in their Champions League opener as a visit to Madrid to face the current holders saw them join the list of many to be put to the sword to the Spanish side’s attacking quartet. Basel have had some joy against English clubs in the recent past however with victories over Tottenham, Manchester United, and Chelsea and are likely to cause Liverpool some problems.
Liverpool have had a slow start to the season with the speed and direct running that overwhelmed teams last season now disappeared from their game due to the departure of Suarez and the injury to Sturridge. In their opening Champions League group match, a sluggish Liverpool performance saw a last minute penalty from Steven Gerrard saved their blushes against new comers Ludogorets. Their league form hasn’t been the best either with a record of 1 draw and 2 defeats in September.
Rumoured to be a transfer target of West Ham, Streller is Basel’s leading man and already has 5 goals in 8 matches this season. While he was quiet against Real Madrid, not surprising given the dominance of the home side, Streller managed 2 shots and while only making 12 passes he managed to complete all of them showing his experience of knowing the importance against
Streller’s main role is to score goals though and with the indifferent defensive performances Liverpool have showed on the most part for the last 13 months means the in-form striker will only need a moment and could be a deciding factor in the match.
The English youngster has continued from his impressive performances in the World Cup and is now a key figure in the Liverpool side – Wednesday night will be another that everything good will go through the former QPR youth player.
Sterling has the ability to run at players with speed and control making life difficult for the defender and he has made 3.1 successful dribbles in the league and Europe this season. A problem that is highlighted with many young English wingers is the distribution, but Sterling has that in his locker. Able to pick out a through ball between the space of the opposition full back and centre back, Sterling can also get to the by-line and make a good cross – something that happened against Everton on Saturday and Balotelli should have scored from. Creating 14 chances in the league so far, assisting 1 goal, while scoring 3 himself – including a brilliant performance against Tottenham – Liverpool will need Sterling to be firing again against Basel.
Since 2010, Basel’s record against English sides reads as: 3 wins, 3 draws and 2 defeats. While the Swiss side have won 3 of their last 6 Champions League home matches against Manchester United, Bayern Munich, and Chelsea.
The last player to score an away goal in the Champions League for Liverpool was David Ngog (vs Debrecen, 2009).
Steven Gerrard has scored 8 goals in his last 20 Champions League appearances.
Given the form of the two sides and Basel’s recent record in Europe, Liverpool may play more conservatively than normal and draw seems the most likely outcome.