Borussia Dortmund - Liverpool Preview: Reds firm underdogs as Klopp returns to site of former glory

Liverpool face Dortmund away from home in the first leg of their quarter-final encounter.

Borussia Dortmund - Liverpool Preview: Reds firm underdogs as Klopp returns to site of former glory
Will Alberto Moreno (right), and his fellow defender's, be able to prevent Marco Reus (left) from scoring? ¦ Photo: VAVEL

Liverpool travel to Germany to face Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League quarter final tie on Thursday, with the spotlight firmly on current Reds manager Jürgen Klopp.

Taking over from Brendan Rodgers at L4 in October, the German wouldn't have thought he'd be returning to the place where he made his name within such a short space of time.

Indeed, Klopp was a huge success at Dortmund, winning two Bundesliga titles and reaching the Champions League final during his time at the Westfalenstadion - leaving last May after seven memorable years.

Now, with Liverpool and Dortmund paired in the Europa League last eight, it's time for Klopp to be reunited with a fanbase that still adores him, travelling to see him with one that is loving him more and more as the weeks go by.

Liverpool are firm underdogs

Something which might suit Klopp, is that there is little pressure on his new side, with Liverpool firm underdogs for the tie. This is because Dortmund are seen as one of the best teams in Europe, firmly on the heels of Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga, just five points behind the team that many consider to be Barcelona's biggest threat to the Champions League title.

BVB have lost just three of 28 league games this season, notching up 67 goals on the way - one more than rivals Bayern. They've been just as dominant in European competition, easing through the group stage before powering past FC Porto and Tottenham Hotspur in the last 32 and last 16 respectively, two opponents that were expected to cause Thomas Tuchel's team at least some sort of problem.

Marco Reus scores as Dortmund put Tottenham to the sword in the last round (photo: Getty Images)
Marco Reus scores as Dortmund put Tottenham to the sword in the last round (photo: Getty Images)

What will give the Reds hope?

Liverpool can claim to have achieved something that Dortmund haven't, in the fact that they're unbeaten in the Europa League so far this season, with Thursday's opponents having lost two games in the group.

The Reds topped their group, before a James Milner penalty at Anfield helped them edge out Augsburg in the last 32. Manchester United were the opponents in the last round, Liverpool coming out on top in the battle of two English heavyweights, winning 3-1 on aggregate.

It's their league from which will see the visitors unfancied by many in this tie. The Reds are ninth in the Premier League, albeit with the chance to go seventh if they win their games in hand, having struggled to find any sort of consistency all season. 

They will take some comfort in the fact that they've managed to produce some spectacular one off performances under Klopp, hammering Manchester City and Southampton away from home, and overpowering Manchester United at Anfield. Still, Dortmund are likely to present the toughest test so far.

Liverpool's fans and players celebrate Daniel Sturridge's opener against United (photo: Getty Images)
Liverpool's fans and players celebrate Daniel Sturridge's opener against United (photo: Getty Images)

Who holds the key for each side?

One huge issue for Liverpool will be keeping out Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, one of the most feared striker's in Europe at present. The Gabonian international has already surpassed the 30 mark for goals scored this season, and will be aided by the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Marco Reus in his bid to outdo a Liverpool defence which has already shipped 41 league goals in 30 games.

Emre Can could hold the key for Liverpool if they're to get a positive result, with the midfielder having enjoyed a wonderful season since Klopp came in. Tuchel has transformed Dortmund into a side that can be as lethal when dominating possession as they are when playing on the break, so it's up to Can, and midfield partner Jordan Henderson, to prevent the Germans from enjoying too much time on the ball.

Emre Can is a contender for Liverpool's Player of the Season (photo: Reuters)
Emre Can is a contender for Liverpool's Player of the Season (photo: Reuters)

Team news, with Firmino the key worry

One man who could play a huge part in Liverpool going back to Anfield with a smile on their faces, is Roberto Firmino. However, it's not yet known if the Brazilian will be fit to play, as he faces a late fitness test to get over a hamstring injury.

Elsewhere for the Reds, Joe Gomez and Danny Ings remain out with long term problems, whilst Christian Benteke is still sidelined, as is Lucas Leiva. Five Liverpool players are a booking away from suspension. Alberto Moreno, Philippe Coutinho, Nathaniel Clyne, Dejan Lovren and the aforementioned Firmino all walk the disciplinary tightrope.

Dortmund were handed a boost earlier this week as Mats Hummels, Sokratis and Ilkay Gundogan all returned to training ahead of the game. They're all set to start on Thursday, in what promises to be a thrilling spectacle.