25 Feb 2015

LFC lineup vs. Besiktas: Huge double blow for Liverpool; surprise start for Balotelli

According to Brendan Rodgers, Liverpool's main target this season is to win a trophy, and with the Reds sitting pretty in two cup competitions, there's every chance that goal can be achieved. First, Liverpool have to get past Besiktas, and with a slim 1-0 lead from the first-leg, the club has a very slight advantage going into tomorrow's game. Can LFC build on that advantage, or will it all come crashing down?

Team News:

* Coutinho is being rested and did not make the trip to Turkey.

* Henderson has an ankle injury, and is also not in the squad.
* Gerrard, Lucas, Flanagan, Johnson, Enrique, and Sakho are also out.
* Markovic is suspended.

With so many players out, the squad is down it the bare-bones, but thankfully, Liverpool have enough strength-in-depth to cover the absentees. With that in mind:

* It seems likely that Jordon Ibe will start the game. He started the first leg, and delivered an effective performance.

* With no other viable options, Can will almost certainly move into midfield to cover Hendo.

* With Sakho out, and Toure should come into the team to replace Can on the right side of the back-three.

* The key question is will Rodgers start Balotelli. After being rested at the weekend, Sturridge is certain to start, which leaves Balotelli fighting for a place with Sterling and Lallana. Realistically, Lallana will get nod, so I expect to see the following lineup.

----------------- Mignolet

----- Toure ----- Skrtel ------- Lovren

Ibe --------- Can ----- Allen ---- Moreno

---------- Sterling -- Lallana

---------------- Sturridge

Even without Henderson and Coutinho, that's a tasty line-up, and it's more than good enough to get a result against Besiktas. Anfield legend John Aldridge certainly thinks so, and in his column for the Liverpool Echo this week, he mused:

"They [Besiktas] will have to come out and play, yet if we score they need three, so how do they approach it? They certainly can’t sit back and that may suit us. Our away form is terrific".

Sturridge didn't have the best of games last week, but he's due a goal, and one goal is probably all it will take to seal the tie.

My prediction: 2-0 LFC.

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8 comments:

  1. Stickhwiththeprogramme11:00 pm, February 25, 2015

    I think you seriously underestimate our lack of experience of games of this character. The team you name will contain 5 players under the age of 25 who never faced anything even remotely close to what the Atatürk-stadium will offer tomorrow night in terms of hostile atmosphere. If we can come out of the first 20-25 without conceding our chances will improve drastically. If they score inside the opening 20 I would say we're destined to crash out of the EL. Heart says 1-1, brain Besiktas 3 - 1 Liverpool.

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  2. I think you're overestimating Besiktas a little. The crowd may be loud but they won't score the goals for them.

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  3. One consideration would be Manquillo instead of Ibe, simply because he's much more defensive minded. Personally I like the look of Ibe there and think he'll be fine, but BR might opt for a bit of a defensive setup given the atmosphere in the Ataturk and our current injury situation at the back/middle.

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  4. It's been a while since he played. Might not be the best atmosphere to reintroduce a rusty 19 year old who's probably a bit low on confidence

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  5. This is what we spent all that money on ... depth. It's paying off. Next summer let's pray for quality.

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  6. At the likely risk of starting an argument ... I notice that 8 of the players in the proposed line up above are signed under Rodgers. Add Markovic and it would be 9. So apparently he's rubbish in the transfer market but 8/9 of his signings are expected to form a team and win an important knock-out round Europa League game. Of course this comment will look pretty daft if we lose.

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  7. You may be realistically estimating the capability of a defensive line composed of Lovren, Skrtel and Toure. I know the back 3 has been working for us tactically but this makes me uneasy. I do expect them to score. They were a bit ponderous at Anfield but at some point they kind of woke up a bit and seemed to find space in our half. They have that capability and if we make any mistakes in defence it will cost us a goal or two. However I'm not sure they'll get 3, and that's what they need to win. Liverpool will score at least 1.

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