Liverpool v Sevilla: Back shot-happy Salah to notch in Champions League opener

The speed of Mo Salah could be crucial on Wednesday night
The speed of Mo Salah could be crucial on Wednesday night
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Jack Lang thinks Liverpool's Egyptian flyer could be the difference in this rerun of the 2015/16 Europa League final...

"Only six players have managed more shots than Salah the Premier League and he should have some joy against a backline that was troubled by the pace of Eljero Elia in the play-off round"

Liverpool v Sevilla
Wednesday, 19:45
Live on BT Sport 2

Reds back on the big stage

For a side whose history is so entwined with European competition, Liverpool have endured some fairly barren years as far as the Champions League goes. This is just their second time they have made the continent's top competition in the last eight seasons, and their last foray didn't exactly leave them with many happy memories: the Reds were dumped out at the group stage in 2014/15.

Much better will be expected this year, not least because Jürgen Klopp's side have been drawn in one of the easier sections. Maribor and Spartak Moscow should not hold a great deal of fear for Liverpool, meaning the main challenge is likely to come from Sevilla, their conquerors in the Europa League final the season before last. Wednesday's opener, then, is a fantastic opportunity to put down a marker.

The 5-0 reversal to Manchester City at the weekend was hardly the ideal way to prepare for this match, but there were extenuating circumstances and Klopp can point to four consecutive victories before that one. Sadio Mané is available here despite his domestic ban, while Klopp's decision to hook Mohamed Salah at half-time at the Etihad suggests he the Egyptian will be maintained here.

Sevilla aiming for improvement

Victors over İstanbul Başakşehir's band of faded stars in the play-off round, Sevilla are in the group stage for the third season in a row. But for all their recent success in the Europa League, the Andalusians have made little impact in the Champions League: only once have they gone beyond the round of 16 - all the way back in 1957-58.

There is scope for improvement this term, if their early league form is anything to go by. Sevilla have taken seven points from their first three games and looked especially impressive at the weekend, brushing Eibar aside with three second-half goals. While the craft of Samir Nasri and Stevan Jovetić will be missed this term, Eduardo Berizzo looks to be coaxing something out of Brazilian enigma of Paulo Henrique Ganso, who has two goals in two.

Éver Banega should come into the midfield after serving a suspension at the weekend, with influential defender Nico Pareja also returning to the squad. But Johannes Geis and Nolito have not been included in the travelling party; the latter will be a big miss, having scored one and assisted another on Saturday.

Liverpool understandable favourites

The 2015/16 Europa League is the only meeting to date between these sides. Sevilla won 3-1 on that occasion, but that's probably not much of a guide to this one given the turnover in personnel on both sides. Perhaps more pertinent is the fact that Los Rojiblancos have lost all three of their Champions League visits to England, most recently to Leicester City last season. This is not their preferred hunting ground.

Liverpool have won nine of their last 12 competitive games at Anfield, which is likely to be a cauldron of noise for this game. Klopp's men usually raise their game for the big occasions, so it's no surprise that the home win is [1.72].

Thriller not guaranteed

If their play-off against Hoffenheim is any guide, Liverpool will be a fun watch in the Champions League this term. This is a team that attacks with real conviction and defends with none at all, so goals are always likely to be on the cards.

Yet there will be a natural desire to tighten up after their shellacking at the weekend, while Sevilla - no strangers to goal-fests last season - will surely look to stay in the game as long as possible. A complete deadlock is unthinkable, but we'll be giving the overs a swerve at a price of [1.58].

Salah worth backing

He may not have the best afternoon against City, but Salah still had Liverpool's clearest chance and, thanks to his pace, consistently finds himself in goalscoring positions. Only six players have managed more than his 13 shots in the Premier League so far and the 25-year-old should have some joy against a backline that was troubled by the pace of Eljero Elia in the play-off round.

Recommended Bet
Back Mohamed Salah to score at [3.3]

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