Liverpool and Basel clash on Tuesday night in the last game of the group stage knowing that the stakes are at its highest. In a winner takes all clash, both teams have a chance of qualifying from Group B, with the Reds needing a victory to on another potentially famous European night at Anfield. Basel only need a draw however and have shown that they have enough in the locker to trouble Liverpool so they will no doubt be ready for the occasion.
After a troubling November period, Liverpool are unbeaten in the last three matches, winning against Stoke and Leicester but drawing against Sunderland in a drab encounter. The Reds are definitely lacking a cutting edge even with the likes of Sterling, Coutinho and Lallana in midfield. Goals have been at a premium this season and the defending can be woeful at times, even though Liverpool have conceded just once in the last three. The whole team will have to be united though on Tuesday night as they fight for their lives in the competition which is so special to the club and the fans.
Basel are in top form going into the game having won 4-0 at the weekend and have conceded just one goal in those last five games, scoring 14 goals along the way. They currently lead the Swiss Super League by eight points and will be looking to take the domestic form into this huge clash.
Liverpool were pegged back by Ludogorets in their last Champions League game after coming from behind to lead 2-1 going into the late stages of the game, only to concede. The result wasn’t disastrous however as they still would’ve needed the same outcome against Basel even if they had won against Ludogorets. Basel lost 1-0 to Real Madrid in their last game which means they Liverpool stayed alive the competition so one of these teams will be jubilant come the final whilst on Tuesday with the other having to deal with dropping down to the Europa League.
Strikers Daniel Sturridge and Mario Balotelli are still out injured which leaves Liverpool desperately short up front with Lambert the only real option in attack. Defenders Sakho and Flanagan are still recovering from their layoffs with comebacks pencilled in soon.
Liverpool: Mignolet, Johnson, Skrtel, Toure, Moreno, Lucas, Henderson, Gerrard, Sterling, Lallana, Lambert.
Basel: Vaclík, Safari, Suchý, Schär, Xhaka, Frei, Serey Die, Gashi, El Nenny, Streller, Embolo
- Liverpool tasted defeat against Swiss opposition for the first time in 10 matches when they lost to Basel (W6 D3).
- The Reds were in a similar position in this competition in the 2004/2005 season in which they had to win to stand any chance of progression. After trailing 1-0 at half time and needing to win by two clear goals to go through, Steven Gerrard capped off a memorable comeback to win 3-1. Liverpool then went on to win the Champions League that season
- Basel have won their last three matches against English teams after doing the double against Chelsea in last season’s competition.
- Their overall home record against English teams is W5 D3 L4
Head to Heads
2014/2015 Wed 01 Oct FC Basel 1 – 0 Liverpool
2002/2003 Tue 12 Nov FC Basel 3 – 3 Liverpool
2002/2003 Wed 25 Sep Liverpool 1 – 1 FC Basel
Steven Gerrard, the heart of Liverpool’s team for so many years now, is the man for the big occasions. He stood up and with a swing of his right boot, put Liverpool into the knockout-stages in the 2004/2005 campaign, starting the comeback off in the final, and the rest is history. There has been much controversy over the 34-year-old this season after being dropped to the bench for two of the last three games and playing a waiting game as to whether to sign a new contract or not. He has scored three times this season, one of them being the winner in the first game against Ludogorets but has seen his form suffer from inconsistency so far but will want to show that in the games that you need someone to step up, he is still the man for the job.
Albanian attacking midfielder Gashi has been in fine form this season, scoring 11 goals in 15 appearances in the league so far. He also notched in the 4-0 win against Ludogorets at home and is his clubs leading goal scorer at the moment. He has only made two appearances in the Champions League so far but averages a passing accuracy of 86% in those games. With the ability to play off the front man or on either wing, the 26-year-old could be a handful for Liverpool have been susceptible against tricky players.
It will be another one of those famous nights at Anfield come Tuesday but nerves will be jangling and fans will be on the edges of their seat knowing that Liverpool never quite do it the easy way. It’s likely to be a rollercoaster ride from start to finish but a win and progressing to the next round is my gut feeling for this one.
My Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Basel