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Preview: Liverpool vs. RB Leipzig - prediction, team news, lineups

Sports Mole previews Wednesday's Champions League clash between Liverpool and RB Leipzig, including predictions, team news and possible lineups.

Liverpool and RB Leipzig will return to the Puskas Arena in Budapest for the second leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday evening.

The Reds come into the match boasting a 2-0 lead from the first leg, which was also held on neutral territory at the same venue, and will hope to put their domestic difficulties to one side and book a quarter-final spot for the third time in four seasons.


Match preview

Liverpool's Sadio Mane celebrates scoring their second goal with teammates on February 16, 2021© Reuters

Reasons for cheer are few and far between for Liverpool at the moment, but the first leg of this tie on February 16 was a rare high point in 2021 so far.

A 2-0 victory in the 'away' leg at the Puskas Arena means that Jurgen Klopp's side return to Hungary with one foot in the quarter-final, and they have never before been knocked out of this competition after winning away from home in the first leg.

The Reds have also remarkably never lost any of their previous 20 'home' matches against German opposition, winning 16 and drawing four with an aggregate score of 52-9, although it is difficult to class this match amongst the rest given that it takes place in Hungary, while Liverpool have made a habit of setting unwanted history in recent weeks.

Indeed, Klopp and his players are probably pleased that this match is taking place 1,300 miles away from Merseyside given that they have now incredibly lost their last six games at Anfield - the worst run in the club's 129-year history.

The most recent of those was a 1-0 reverse at the hands of relegation-threatened Fulham on Sunday, meaning that Liverpool are also still without a goal from open play at home this calendar year; their only home goal of any kind in their last seven outings came via the penalty spot in a 4-1 defeat to Manchester City.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on March 7, 2021© Reuters

All five of Liverpool's victories this calendar year have come away from Anfield, but their general form also makes for grim reading - six defeats from their last eight matches across all competitions, and nine losses already in 2021.

Eight of those defeats have come in the space of 12 Premier League games - as many as they had suffered in their previous 121 top-flight outings - so Klopp will be hopeful that the Champions League provides some form of respite.

Similar levels of performance will no doubt be similarly punished in Europe, though, and particularly by a Leipzig side that comes into Wednesday's match in fine form.

It was Leipzig themselves who were punished in the first leg when they gifted Liverpool both goals through errors, but since that defeat they have been faultless with four wins from four.

That run of form has seen Julian Nagelsmann's side keep the pressure on at the top of the Bundesliga, with only two points separating them from leaders Bayern Munich, as well as advancing to the semi-finals of the DFB-Pokal.

RB Leipzig coach Julian Nagelsmann pictured on February 16, 2021© Reuters

A famous turnaround against Liverpool would therefore keep an unlikely treble dream alive, and with eight wins and six clean sheets from their last nine matches across all competitions, they will be confident of their chances of pulling off such a feat.

Should they avoid the same mistakes that hampered their hopes in the first leg then their chances will be greatly improved, although they must also overcome Liverpool's two away goals, which will still count despite both legs being played at the same stadium.

A repeat of Saturday's 3-0 win at Freiburg would suffice for the German outfit, who remain relative novices on this stage despite making it all the way to the semi-finals last season.

Certainly, the scalp of six-time winners Liverpool would be one of their biggest yet, and they may not find a better time to take on the Reds in an away tie.

For Liverpool, though, the Champions League is fast becoming the final saving grace of their season, and going all the way could well be their most realistic route back into next season's competition given their recent league form.

Liverpool Champions League form:
  • W
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • D
  • W

Liverpool form (all competitions):
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • L

RB Leipzig Champions League form:
  • L
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • L

RB Leipzig form (all competitions):
  • W
  • L
  • W
  • W
  • W
  • W


Team News

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino celebrates scoring against Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on December 16, 2020© Reuters

Klopp made no fewer than seven changes to his side for the weekend match against Fulham, suggesting that he is eager to prioritise the Champions League now.

Of those, only Roberto Firmino and Ozan Kabak were left out through injury, and Firmino remains a doubt for this match having missed training on Wednesday.

James Milner was also absent from training for unspecified reasons and so has a question mark over his fitness, but Kabak was back in that session and so is expected to be available.

If Firmino does prove his fitness, Klopp must decide whether or not the Brazilian and Sadio Mane should both return to the starting lineup given their underwhelming form of late, or whether Diogo Jota should keep his place in the XI.

Mane and Mohamed Salah both scored in the first leg, while the latter is now Liverpool's top scorer in the Champions League with 23 goals in 40 games.

Along with Kabak and Mane, the likes of Fabinho, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Thiago Alcantara will be pushing for a recall.

Jordan Henderson, Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip all remain long-term absentees for Liverpool, while back-up goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher is doubtful alongside Firmino, Kabak and Milner.

Naby Keita will be keen to start against his former club, while Leipzig boast a former Liverpool man in the shape of goalkeeper Peter Gulacsi.

The German outfit are expected to be without former Manchester City full-back Angelino, who has had a direct hand in six of Leipzig's 11 Champions League goals this season but has missed the last three matches with a thigh problem.

Marcel Sabitzer and Willi Orban are also doubts for Nagelsmann's side, while Konrad Laimer and Dominik Szoboszlai are both sidelined.

Emil Forsberg is now back fit after missing the first leg, though, and he could make his 50th European appearance.

Christopher Nkunku will be hoping to take his good domestic form into Europe, meanwhile, having scored four goals in his last six Bundesliga outings.

Liverpool possible starting lineup:
Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Phillips, Kabak, Robertson; Thiago, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Jota, Salah, Mane

RB Leipzig possible starting lineup:
Gulacsi; Mukiele, Upamecano, Klostermann; Adams, Sabitzer, Kampl, Olmo, Halstenberg; Sorloth, Nkunku


SM words green background

We say: Liverpool 0-1 RB Leipzig

It is difficult to back Liverpool to score at the moment, yet alone win a game, and so long as Leipzig can cut out the mistakes which cost them so dearly in the reverse fixture then they will be confident of keeping a clean sheet.

The challenge would then be to make up the two-goal deficit, and that could be where they end up falling short against a Liverpool side which, despite such dreadful recent form, has only conceded four goals in their last five outings.

We can see Leipzig winning on the night but Liverpool still just about edging through on aggregate.



Top tip

Our expert tipster partners at Sporita.com are predicting a double chance bet on a home win or an away win in this match. Click here to find out what else they are predicting for this game and for more of their tried-and-tested football tips.Home/Away:data


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Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp pictured on March 7, 2021
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