Sevilla vs Liverpool Preview: Reds looking to book berth in Champions League knockout stages

Liverpool face Sevilla in the fifth game of their Champions League group stage campaign on Tuesday looking for a win that could go some way to deciding who tops Group E.

Sevilla vs Liverpool Preview: Reds looking to book berth in Champions League knockout stages
(Picture: Getty Images - Paul Ellis)

Liverpool travel to Sevilla for a decisive Champions League clash on Tuesday night that could see them ensure their place in the knock-out stages and go some way to deciding the eventual outcome of Group E.

The Reds currently top the group, a single point above Sevilla, and will qualify for the last-16 with a game to spare if they win. A draw, should Spartak Moscow lose to NK Maribor, would also be enough.

By contrast defeat would surely end their hopes of topping the group come December 6.

That would allow Sevilla to move two points ahead with victory over Maribor - who have conceded 14 goals and collected only one point so far - in their final game near inevitable.

Victory is also sufficient for the home side to qualify, promising an exciting and open encounter.

Spartak are only just behind Sevilla and Liverpool and thrashed the La Liga outfit 5-1 at home last month, the Russian champions proving they can yet have a huge say in how the group finishes - especially should the two teams draw at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán Stadium

Jürgen Klopp's men are in fine form having won all of their last four games in all competitions, scoring at least three goals in each match and conceding just once overall. 

They have responded superbly to their heavy defeat at Tottenham Hotspur last month and approach a hectic Christmas fixture period on their best run of form of the campaign so far.

Liverpool have mid-week fixtures for the next three weeks after this as they prepare to rattle through 11 fixtures in the next 40 days, and the boost of securing their place in the next stage of the Champions League in February would be considerable.

But in the form of a trip to Sevilla they face a formidable test. Los Rojiblancos have not lost a home game in any competition since November 22 last year, 25 games ago. 

They have won all of their last seven home matches, including both of their other Champions League group games.

They sit fifth in the Spanish top-flight - 12 points off leaders Barcelona - having lost three of their last four domestic clashes, albeit two of them to Barcelona and second-placed Valencia - who are both still unbeaten.

The two teams could only share a point in their previous meeting, the opening group stage fixture. Liverpool twice took the lead but sloppy defending denied them a first ever win over the Andalusians.

Their only other encounter was the 2016 Europa League final, a painful memory for Liverpool after the way they collapsed in the second-half - surrendering a 1-0 advantage to lose 3-1 and miss out on long-awaited silverware. 

Liverpool are already guaranteed at least a spot in the lesser European competition, which every third-placed team in the Champions League drops into.

But they are tantalisingly close to returning to the knockout rounds of this tournament for the first time since 2009 and only three of 31 teams since 2003-04 to be on eight points after four group games have failed to progress.

And ensuring their place with a game to spare would represent welcome simplicity from a Liverpool side whose entertaining absurdities will make them a must-watch up against Europe's finest.  

Yet they'll have to produce a top-class performance to come away with a three points that would allow them to focus on the Premier League until the New Year.

Team news

Joël Matip has been left out of the 23-man Liverpool squad that flew out to Andalusia on Monday, though midfielder Adam Lallana has travelled.

The centre-back missed the weekend's win over Southampton due to a groin injury which keeps him sidelined, though he could return against Chelsea on Saturday.

Lallana, yet to make an appearance this season due to a long-term thigh problem, missed out against the Saints after returning to full training last week and could make the bench in Seville.

The club's nominated 'keeper for European fixtures this term, Loris Karius will once again replace Simon Mignolet in goal. Defender Joe Gomez could also return having been rested last time out.

The electric attacking quartet of Philippe CoutinhoMohamed SalahSadio Mané and Roberto Firmino are all expected to keep their places.

Sevilla are without captain Nicolás Pareja and fellow defender Daniel Carriço with the pair both still out since late September.

Eduardo Berizzo will hope to be able to call upon winger Joaquín Correa, who scored the late equaliser in the previous meeting, after muscle problems.

Gabriel Mercado and Walter Montoya have both missed Sevilla's last two games with hamstring and groin injuries.

Wissam Ben Yedder and Jesús Navas were unused substitutes in their win over Celta Vigo on Saturday and should return to the starting eleven for the visit of the Premier League outfit.

 

Full 23-man Liverpool squad

Goalkeepers: Simon Mignolet, Loris Karius, Danny Ward.

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

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

Forwards: Sadio Mané, Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino, Daniel Sturridge, Dominic Solanke, Danny Ings.

Recent form (all competitions)

Sevilla: WWWLW

Liverpool: LWWWW

 

Latest result

Sevilla 2-1 Celta Vigo (Muriel, Nolito)

Liverpool 3-0 Southampton (Salah x2, Coutinho)

 

Match facts

Sevilla have never lost against Liverpool in European competition, winning once (3-1 in May 2015) and drawing once (2-2 in September 2017). 

The Spanish side have won three of their four Champions League home games against English opponents - last beating Leicester City in February.

The Spanish side have won six of their last eight European home matches.

Of the last 31 teams since 2003-04, 28 have gone on to reach the Champions League knockout phase after claiming eight points from their first four group games.

Liverpool ended a four-game winless run in Champions League away games stretching back to November 2009 when they beat Maribor 7-0 in Slovenia last month.

Liverpool have lost 1-0 on each of their last three visits to Spain, most recently at Villarreal in a Europa League semi-final first leg.

The Reds have won just one of their last six matches against La Liga opposition, their return leg against Villarreal - a 3-0 Anfield victory.

Liverpool's overall away record against Spanish clubs reads: W7 D4 L5.

The Merseyside outfit have won just three of their last 15 European away games (D7 L5).