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Preview: Liverpool – Spartak Moscow

Ahead of the last matchday in Champions League (CL) Group E, only one thing is clear: Maribor will not qualify for further European adventures this season. Other than that, it’s wide open – Spartak will qualify for the next round if they beat Liverpool, and will win the group if Sevilla lose against Maribor. Liverpool on their hand, will win the group if they beat Spartak, but will still have a chance to qualify if they draw, depending on Sevilla’s result.

 

Flashscore presents the key facts before the match:

Due to injuries and a hectic schedule, Liverpool coach Jurgen Klopp has had to make full use of his squad recently. In the five last matches he’s started no less than 19 different players, including last weekend’s surprise lineup which featured midfielders Emre Can and Georginio Wijnaldum as centre-backs!

Klopp will again be without first choice defender Joel Matip for the match against Maribor, but was happy (and surprised!?) by his midfielders-turned-defenders against Brighton: “I enjoyed it. It was like ‘wow, interesting’. We had 20 minutes in training and then we spoke for a little bit in the team meeting before the game again about it. They did really well”, the German stated to the club’s website.

Since their humbling 4-1 defeat against Tottenham in late October, Liverpool have been in blazing form (W6, D2) and scored 25 goals (3.1 per match) in the process. Today they face another team in good form. Spartak have four wins on the bounce in their domestic league, lifting them to fourth place after an initial disappointing start to the season.

Playing favourites? Curiously, Spartak thrashed Sevilla (who Liverpool failed to beat in two attempts) 5-1 at home, whereas Liverpool were similarly brutal against Maribor (winning 7-0 away, and 3-0 at home) – who Spartak failed to beat in two attempts.

Group E has so far been a draw-fest, with half of the matches ending in ties so far. But a draw need not be boring, as up until now all the matches in this group have ended with over 1.5 goals. Spartak, being the ‘most conservative’ team in the group, have seen an average of 3.0 goals in their matches so far.

 

Missing players

Liverpool: A. Lallana (convalescence), J. Matip (muscle injury), A. Bogdan (doubtful), M. Grujic (doubtful)

Spartak Moscow: J. Ananidze (ankle injury), D. Kombarov (ribs injury), G. Tigiev (knee injury), A. Timofeev (doubtful).