Liverpool vs Red Bull Salzburg Champions League Preview

Posted By Chops on October 1, 2019

Who: Liverpool vs Red Bull Salzburg
When: Wednesday, October 2nd @ 03:00pm ET
LineLiverpool -335 | Draw +480 | Red Bull Salzburg +800

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UPDATE: This post has been updated to reflect Joel Matip’s injury.

Liverpool. Champions of Europe. Winner of 16 straight Premier League games. 7-0-0 perfect start to their domestic season.

Yet, third place in their UEFA Champions League group after losing 2-0 to Napoli.

The Reds face Group E leader Red Bull Salzburg at Anfield on Wednesday. Led by future Liverpool forward ERLING BRAUT HALAND, Salzburg pasted Genk 6-2 in their opening match.

Despite their placement atop Group E and being able to angrily shout, “tordifferential als fick, y’all,” Salzburg are far from favorites not just to win their bracket but to advance at all. On DraftKings Sportsbook NJ, Napoli are inexplicably odds-on to advance at -1000. Liverpool follow at -835. Red Bull Salzburg, who currently lead the group and have a +4 goal differential, are +900 to win and +200 to advance. 

The real Group of Death will get thrown into chaos with anything other than a Liverpool victory. Here’s a match preview.

Liverpool vs Red Bull Salzburg Likely Starting XI’s

Well, the elephant in the room here is whether Haland will be ready to play. He’s battling through an illness and missed RBS’ weekend match. I think the safe money though is Haland finds his way on to the pitch. No doubt Jurgen Klopp is preparing for that.

Klopp would’ve almost certainly rolled out his preferred starting XI of Adrian, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Virgil van Dijk, Joel Matip, Andy Robertson, Gini Wijnaldum, Fabinho, Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino, and Mo Salah. However, Joel Matip reportedly will be held out due to a minor knock. I’d expect to see Dejan Lovren get the call over Joe Gomez, especially if Haland does play. Klopp has shown he prefers experience on big European nights, and Lovren has the size to match-up with Haland.

There’s a chance James Milner nudges Gini out of the line-up, especially as his defensive work will be needed in the midfield for this match (more so with Matip out). However, with Wijnaldum delivering the decisive goal against Sheffield United this weekend, it feels more likely Klopp rewards him with another start.

For Red Bull Salzburg, look for them to deploy a 4-2-2-2 with an XI of Cican Stankovic, Rasmus Kristensen, Andre Ramalho, Max Wober, Andreas Ulmer, Dominik Szoboszlai, Zlatko Junuzovic, Patson Daka, Takumi Minamino, Hwang Hee-Chan and Erling Braut Haland.

Liverpool vs Red Bull Salzburg Champions League Match Preview

RBS’ American manager Jesse Marsch is one the brightest up-and-comers in soccer. For two seasons now Napoli has provided a template to beat Liverpool. Marsch is studying it. The question is: does he have the right parts to execute the same tactical approach? In short: yes and no.

RBS will not sit back and park the bus at Anfield. They’ll be on their front foot and take it to Liverpool just as Napoli did.

Haland has already thrown the guantlet down, saying his squad will be “fearless.” While the narrative is that RBS is too young to be scared, the reality is their composition is similar to Ajax’s last season. Yes, there is a ton of young talent that will be plucked by Europe’s elite. However, they have enough veterans to (in theory) help provide composure.

RBS is a fluid team that will create most of their shots from open play with good build up through short, precise passing. They don’t just boom the ball up to Haland and ask him to make things happen. That wouldn’t work against Liverpool anyway.  As massive as Haland is, he’s never had to deal with VVD. He can’t bully van Dijk and Lovren (though maybe Gomez) off the ball. RBS isn’t a strong aerial team, so crosses (which they don’t attempt a lot of anyway) won’t work.

Fabinho (as is often the case) will be key here. His ability to break up the build-up play in the midfield will limit the effectiveness of RBS’ attack.

RBS play smart. They build up and take high percentage shots from inside the box. That’s usually a recipe for success. That’s harder when you have VVD and Fabinho disrupting those chances.

Red Bull will concede plenty of chances to Liverpool as well. Lost in the 6-2 Genk scoreline is that the Belgium side out-possessed, out-aerial’d, out-dribbled, and out-tackled the Austrians. They managed 10 shots as well. What will Liverpool at Anfield be able to generate?

Prediction

While many think this will be a high-scoring affair, I can see it going more like the UCL final against Tottenham. Expect Klopp to press the hell out of RBS early, counter, and try to get on the board quickly. From there, the Reds will defense the shit out of Red Bull and frustrate the squad, ultimately leading to an error and another goal.

This ends up a comfortable 2-0 Liverpool win.

Where to Bet Champions League in the US

In the US, you can legally bet on soccer online in New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

For New Jersey, we recommend DraftKings Sportsbook NJ or FanDuel Sportsbook

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Chops

Chops is the executive producer of High Press Soccer. He's an unabashed Liverpool fan who will absolutely let that bias seep into his reporting and analysis.

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