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Analysing Liverpool's UEFA Champions League group stage opponents

FEATURED WRITER
Feature
834   //    13 Sep 2017, 12:55 IST

Liverpool v Manchester United - UEFA Europa League Round of 16: First Leg
Jurgen Klopp will be hoping for some special European nights at Anfield

After all the hard work to finish 4th and get past Hoffenheim in the Champions League play -off round, Liverpool are finally back where they belong, and they have been drawn in Group E where they will be confident of progressing to the knockout stages.

Here we analyse Liverpool's group opponents along with their strengths, weaknesses, and chances of progress.

Sevilla

Playing under new manager Eduardo Berizzo, the Andalusians have made a good start to their La Liga campaign, having been unbeaten so far. Playing with a 4-3-3 formation, Steven N'zonzi along with the rejuvenated Ganso have provided the grit and creativity required in midfield.

Always a threat in European competitions, the Spanish side will be quietly confident of topping the group ahead of Liverpool especially after the acquisitions of Jesus Navas and Nolito from Manchester City.

Effective in attack and solid in defence, Sevilla along with Liverpool are the favourites to go through from Group E.

Strengths: Potent going forward with pace on the wings, Ganso will look to pull the strings and create plenty of chances for the likes of Wissam Ben Yedder and Pablo Sarabia.

Weaknesses: Manager Eduardo Berizza is relatively inexperienced at managing in top level competitions like Champions League and the La Liga side might be found wanting tactically in crunch situations.


Kashima Antlers v Sevilla FC - Preseason Friendly
Keep an eye out for Ganso's silky dribbles and defence splitting passes

Also read: Coutinho questions remain as Klopp turns to Karius for Liverpool v Sevilla

NK Maribor

14 time Slovenian Champions and currently second in their League, NK Maribor will prove to be an unknown quantity for the Merseyside giants. While many expect the likes of Liverpool and Sevilla to steamroll Maribor, the Slovenian side is a solid defensive outfit and they will be determined to make history in the group stage.

Playing in a 4-2-3-1 formation with two holding midfielders, Maribor have only conceded 5 goals in the 8 League games they have played so far and the Slovenian outfit will be looking to cause some problems to the free-flowing Liverpool side.


NK Maribor v Sporting Clube de Portugal - UEFA Champions League
Taveras is Maribor's most skilled player

Strengths: Expect Maribor to be well organised defensively and sit deep against Liverpool. Also, Marcos Tavares will be a huge threat while going forward.

Weaknesses: The lack of any true world class stars will surely be a problem and Maribor are the weakest team on paper in this group.

It will be a success for Maribor if they finish 3rd and somehow make it to the Europa League.

Also read: 5 reasons why Liverpool will win the Champions League

Spartak Moscow

The most successful club in Russia, Spartak Moscow will be hoping to put their indifferent League form away when they play the Champions League. Currently 8th in the League after having played 9 matches, the Russian giants have failed to live up to their potential in spite of boasting some big names like Luis Adriano and Quincy Promes.

Playing 3 at the back, Spartak have struggled to get any type of flow in their game having scored just 12 goals and conceded 13 so far in the League. However, they should not be underestimated as they have players capable of causing one or two upsets on their day.

Liverpool and Sevilla will both be confident of getting the better of Spartak Moscow in the group stages.

Strengths: In Luis Adriano, Quincy Promes and Gulshakov, Spartak Moscow have players who have the experience of playing at the very top level. Should everything fall into place, the Russian side might prove to be an extremely tricky opposition.

Weaknesses: Despite struggling in attack, Spartak Moscow's biggest weakness is their defence. The Russian side have struggled to implement the 3-man-defence at the back and they have conceded 13 goals in just 9 League games.


FC Spartak Moscow v FC Rubin Kazan - Russian Premier League
Quincy Promes was linked with a move to Liverpool before he joined Spartak Moscow

Also read: Tottenham's Wembley 'curse' and Zidane aims to make history - Champions League in Opta numbers

Liverpool

Liverpool have had a mixed start to their campaign so far. After having stuttered to a 3-3 draw against Watford, the Merseyside giants put in a solid performance against Crystal Palace and completely destroyed Arsenal beofre going down 5-0 to Manchester City.

Devastating in attack, the Merseyside giants usually are at their best when facing top quality opposition and it will be interesting to see how the Reds fare against tricky opponents like Maribor and Spartak Moscow.

Jurgen Klopp will be determined to have a good showing in Europe this season and a positive result in tonight's match will go a long way in securing top position for the Premier League side.

Strengths: Everyone knows Liverpool's biggest strength is their attack. Blessed with blistering pace on the wings from the likes of Mane and Salah, the pressing of Firmino and the potential return of Coutinho makes the Red's attack look extremely formidable.

Weaknesses: Although Liverpool have kept 8 clean sheets in their last 12 games, their defence, especially in set-piece situations, seems extremely shaky and well-organised teams will be looking to take advantage of this.


Coutinho and Mane
The return of Coutinho will be a huge boost to Jurgen Klopp's side

However, all said and done, Group E looks like an open and shut case with Liverpool and Sevilla going through to the Round of 16.

Tonight's match will be crucial if Liverpool want to finish on top of this group.


Liverpool are European giants and they will be hoping for many memorable European nights at Anfield this season.

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