Liverpool - Bordeaux Preview: Knockout round qualification on the cards for Klopp's men

Liverpool can secure their place in the Last 32 of the UEFA Europa League should they manage to beat Bordeaux at Anfield on Thursday night.

Things have changed drastically since their previous meeting, a 1-1 draw in the first group game of the campaign, Jürgen Klopp succeeding Brendan Rodgers at the Liverpool helm and injecting a wave of positivity, energy and fluency into the side.

Klopp inspired their first triumph in Europe this season last month, a well-earned 1-0 win away at Rubin Kazan following three successive 1-1 draws.

But he has made his biggest impressions in the Premier League - leading his team to a comprehensive 4-1 win at Manchester City most recently, earning a host of plaudits in the process.

That result, and even more so the manner of their performance, demonstrated further the improvements Liverpool have made and continued to make under Klopp in just seven weeks and only eight games.

The Merseyside outfit conjured up their best performance, arguably, since the near title-winning 2013-14 season, as the Brazilian duo of Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho caused endless problems to City - who had entered the weekend on top of the league table with the best attacking and second-best defensive records.

But it was not just their Brazilian playmakers, rather - the team as a collective - who performed so impressively. The defence were "not so perfect", in Klopp's own words, yet they were dramatically more sturdy than they had been in previous matches, despite missing the key figure of Mamadou Sakho

Likewise, the intensity and composure of their midfield allowed them to regain possession as quickly as they had lost it - resulting in an almost endless of wave of attacks. 

For Bordeaux, then, it could be the worst possible time to come up against a high-on-confidence Liverpool side - but given the soul-sucking effect Anfield has had on Klopp's team in their home games so far, it might not be as one-sided as it would seem on the surface.

Their only real home performance of note has been a Capital One Cup win over Bournemouth using a second-string side, with the other three home games resulting in two draws and a loss - performances also being drastically flatter than those which have come on the road.

The German has yet to see his side ignite on home turf, but no doubt the target against their French opponents will be to win by any means necessary - particularly given the fashion in which Willy Sagnol's charges dug deep and defended their way to a point in their previous meeting, albeit against Rodgers' Liverpool, back in September.

Nevertheless, even under Klopp, they have faltered up against teams that defend with a low block and look to hit back through either counter-attacks or set-pieces - a game plan that Bordeaux are almost certain to implement.

But the Reds know they can make sure of their qualification to the knockout rounds with a win - with Bordeaux three points below them in Group B, whilst a goalless draw - provided FC Sion beat Rubin Kazan in Russia - would also be enough.

However, for Liverpool to maintain the possibility of finishing top of Group B and therefore avoid the stronger sides in the draw for the Last 32, they must beat their Ligue 1 opponents.

Team news:

Liverpool will be without Philippe Coutinho, who was magnificent in their win over City at the weekend, after he picked up a minor hamstring injury mid-way through the second-half.

He joins Mamadou Sakho, who is fighting to feature again before the New Year after straining knee ligaments against Crystal Palace before the international break, on a lengthy injury list.

Amongst them, captain Jordan Henderson (metatarsal fracture), teenage midfielder Jordan Rossiter (hamstring) and Jon Flanagan - who is fighting for fitness after missing all of last season with a serious knee issue, which he had a third surgery on back in April.

Joe Gomez and Danny Ings, who picked up anterior cruciate ligament knocks within a day of each other earlier this season, are unlikely to feature again until 2016-17.

Those injuries could allow Jordon Ibe to return to the starting line-up after being benched for the win against City - whilst Adam Lallana and Roberto Firmino could also retain roles in attacking midfield.

Strikers Christian Benteke and Daniel Sturridge, who started on the bench in Manchester, could be called upon to start - with the latter also working on his fitness after a lay-off - whilst Dejan Lovren should partner Martin Skrtel in central defence.

For the visitors, Wahbi Khazri is suspended after a red card in their loss to table-toppers FC Sion last time out - whilst Nicolas Pallois, PabloGregory Sertic and Thomas Toure are all injured - though defender Lamine Sane has passed a fitness test to be in contention.

Head-to-head:

Total: Liverpool - 2 wins, Draws - 1, Bordeaux - 0 wins.

At Anfield: Liverpool - 1 win, Draws - 0, Bordeaux - 0 wins.

At Nouveau Stade de Bordeaux: Bordeaux - 0 wins, Draws - 1, Liverpool - 1 win.

Most recent meeting: Bordeaux 1-1 Liverpool, UEFA Europa League, 17 September 2015.

Recent form:

Liverpool:

Form in Premier League: DDWLW
Form in all competitions: WWWLW

Bordeaux:

Form in Ligue 1: DWLWD
Form in all competitions: WLDWD

Match facts: 

Liverpool have never lost to Bordeaux in three meetings, winning two and drawing one.

September's 1-1 draw was the only occasion in which Bordeaux haven't lost to Liverpool, also marking the first time they have scored a goal against the English side.

Liverpool boast a strong home record against French opposition - winning 10 and drawing one of 13 games - though their two losses have come in their last four clashes with teams from across the English Channel.

Bordeaux's record against English sides is dramatically less impressive, winning only one of 11 games and losing all five away games - failing to score even a single goal.

Liverpool have scored eight goals in their last three games, but have only hit four in four in the Europa League this season.

Since the UEFA Cup was rebranded to the Europa League, Liverpool have made it through to the knockout phase in both of their previous campaigns – in 2010/11 and 2012/13.

Liverpool are yet to lose in this competition this season, whilst Bordeaux are yet to win - with both teams drawing three of their four games thus far.

Despite scoring only four goals in four games, the Reds have had more shots than any other team with 87 in total, including blocked shots.

Of the four games involving Bordeaux so far, four of the five goals in those games have come in the second-half.

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