Liverpool vs NK Maribor Preview: Reds in search of back to back wins to take huge step towards last 16 qualification of the Champions League

Liverpool vs NK Maribor Preview: Reds in search of back to back wins to take huge step towards last 16 qualification of the Champions League

Liverpool are looking to repeat their antics in Slovenia with another win against NK Maribor on Wednesday night putting them on course to qualify to the knockout stage of the competition.

Joshua Kerr

Liverpool are hoping to build on their 7-0 victory against NK Maribor in Slovenia to give themselves the best possible chance of reaching the last 16 of the Champions League as they host the Slovenian side at Anfield on Wednesday night.

After two frustrating draws against both Sevilla and Spartak Moscow, the Reds knew that both fixtures against Maribor had to result in back to back victories to ignite their campaign and maintain any hope of topping Group E.

Liverpool come into the fixture off the back of a 3-0 victory against Huddersfield at Anfield on Saturday. However, the Reds form before this fixture was worrying as notorious defensive issues resulted in a 4-1 humbling at the hands of Tottenham Hotspur.

However, Liverpool’s previous Champions League fixture saw them break the record for the highest scoring English team in an away fixture as it was seven heaven for the Reds in Slovenia a fortnight ago.

Another win against the Slovenian champions will mean Liverpool will have got their Champions League campaign well and truly back on track, with Liverpool being backed favourites to win the group despite being placed in pot 3 in the group stage draw back in August.

Klopp’s men showed a defensive improvement against Vijoličasti (The Purple) a fortnight ago but after the Reds performance at Wembley only a few days later it showed that even after such a stellar performance as shown in Slovenia, Liverpool are still vulnerable and have one or two mistakes in them that Maribor could expose on Wednesday if they were to cause an unlikely upset.

Maribor have only been active in European competition on one occasion past Christmas, and after being blown away by Liverpool two weeks ago it has effectively left the Slovenian side requiring three wins to earn a spot in the knockout stages of this tournament.

However, their Manager Darko Milanič has keen experience on English soil with their boss most known for his 32-day spell at Leeds United in 2014. Even a point at Anfield could set them on course to surge a late charge to at least reach the last 32 of the Europa League.

The Vijolice would have been disappointed after succumbing so tamely in the fixture at the Ljudski vrt and a similarly one-sided defeat in Sevilla last month will not do anything to improve belief ahead of the trip to the North-West of England, but Maribor continue to impress in the League.

Maribor sit joint top of the table and still remain unbeaten in the league since May of last season as they are yet to taste defeat in their last 16 outings.

However, Maribor do not have the fondest memories of trips to England as their last outing resulted in a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Premier League champions Chelsea.

Team News

Liverpool are expected to make a few changes to the side that won on Saturday. The big news is that Brazillian ace Philippe Coutinho still remains a doubt for the clash with an adductor injury.

Loris Karius and Trent Alexander-Arnold both look likely to come into the starting eleven while Emre Can will look to return to action after only starting on the bench on the weekend.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be hoping to earn only his second start in a Liverpool shirt aa the Englishman was on the scoresheet in the reverse fixture in Slovenia a fortnight ago. Daniel Sturridge looks unlikely to start two games in a row so this could mean Chamberlain could play on the right flank while Roberto Firmino could be deployed back down the middle.

Maribor manager Milanic could potentially include striker Marcos Tavares, who was dropped to the bench in their most recent fixture after a run of 10 games without a goal.

Liverpool's 21-man travelling squad in full: 

Goalkeepers: Loris Karius, Simon Mignolet, Danny Ward.

Defenders: Nathaniel Clyne, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Andrew Robertson, Alberto Moreno, Joël Matip, Ragnar Klavan, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez.

Midfielders: Jordan Henderson, Emre Can, Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Marko Grujić, James Milner.

Forwards: Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge, Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke.

Recent Form (all competitions)

Liverpool: DDDWLW

NK Maribor: DLWLWW

Latest Result

Liverpool 3-0 Huddersfield (Sturridge 50, Firmino 58, Wijnaldum 75)

Domžale 0-1 NK Maribor (J.Mešanović 58)

Match facts

Liverpool and NK Maribor had never met before in UEFA competition before last fortnights encounter, with Maribor the only Slovenian club ever to reach the group stages of the Champions League.

The Reds' only previous competitive meeting with Slovenian opposition was in the UEFA Cup in 2003-04, when they overcame NK Olimpija Ljubljana 4-1 on aggregate in the first round.

NK Maribor’s only victory against English opposition came at home to Wigan Athletic in the Europa League group stages in 2013-14.

They held Chelsea to a 1-1 draw in Slovenia in the 2014-15 group stages of this competition, though lost the away game 6-0.

Maribor have not won a Champions League group stage game since beating Celtic away from home in August 2014.

Liverpool remain unbeaten at Anfield this season and have not tasted defeat at home in the Champions League since 2009.