Liverpool have left it late to complete their journey to the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League for the first time in over five years. With a must win showdown at Anfield on Tuesday December 8, 2014, against Swiss champions FC Basel.
Having failed to hold onto their lead against PFC Ludogorets a fortnight ago, Liverpool have to defeat Basel in order to ensure they make it to the next round while a loss could see them spiral out of both the Champions League and potentially the best losers prize of a place in the UEFA Europa League if Ludogorets manage to take a point from Real Madrid.
FC Basel only need a draw to progress and they are likely to play more defensive when they travel to Merseyside while the Reds are going to have to go for broke if they want to ensure they move on. Having struggled to score goals at home this season Liverpool need a strong start to get their momentum going.
Speaking ahead of the match, Liverpool Manager Brendan Rodgers claimed that the players could write themselves into the club’s history with a victory:
“We would have taken [being in this position] when the draw was made. Tomorrow night will be a great night and, obviously, it is up to us to get the job done.
This is a competition that has a great history here for Liverpool and it is a chance for the players to qualify and make sure they write themselves into folklore by winning the game and ensuring they get into the next round.”
On the opposite side of the ball, Basel Manager Paulo Sousa is more than aware of Liverpool’s history in the Europe as the most decorated English club in the Champions League but believes his side’s ambition could be the difference:
“We know the realities. We know they are a historic club and we know about everything around them – the investments, the quality of the players and the number of years Brendan Rodgers has been here, so he knows the environment.
But despite that, our club year-by-year is having success. We have the ambition and courage to keep being successful. We want to do things how we usually do things, with happiness in our game, putting them under pressure and then hopefully we can have another magical night and another historic step for this fantastic club.”
Liverpool XI: Mignolet: Manquillo, Škrtel, Touré, Johnson; Lucas, Henderson, Allen, Gerrard, Sterling; Lambert.
Basel XI: Vaclík: Degen, Schär, Suchý, Safari; Delgado, Frei, Elneny; Gonzalez, Streller, Gashi.
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