UEFA Champions League 2019-20, Genk vs Liverpool: The Reds in search of their first away win amidst massive injury concerns
Reigning champions Liverpool return to European action following a VAR-fueled draw against fierce rivals Manchester United on Sunday. The result meant Jurgen Klopp’s men dropped their first points in the Premier League after a perfect start of 8 wins out of 8 matches.
On Wednesday, Liverpool travel to Belgium to face Genk in the third round of the Champions League group stage. As the Reds go in search of their first away European win of the season, there are quite a few factors that need to be kept in mind.
#1 Away group stage form
Liverpool's last away victory in the group stages came in October 2017, when the Reds blasted 7 past Maribor in Slovenia. It’s been over two years since Liverpool have won an away match in the group stages of the Champions League and this Wednesday, Klopp will look to change that stat.
Last season in the Champions League, Liverpool lost all three of their away group games - against Red Star Belgrade, Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain - before going on to finally claim their sixth Champions League title. This season, the away curse seems ever-present as Liverpool lost their Champions League opener to Napoli.
Having toiled hard enough to claim the 3 points against Red Bull Salzburg in a 4-3 win at Anfield, Liverpool will look to break the away curse with a win in Belgium over Genk.
#2 Squad rotation
When the weekend's game seemed to be going in Manchester United’s favor, Klopp had to turn to Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Naby Keita and Adam Lallana to turn things around. The substitutions were on point as Lallana found the net in the 85th minute to score his first goal in around two years.
With the Tottenham fixture looming ahead, Klopp could opt for squad rotation. Oxlade-Chamberlain, Keita and Sunday’s star Lallana could be given a run on Wednesday, with James Milner also making a strong case for an appearance. Joe Gomez could feature as well if Klopp gives Trent Alexander-Arnold a rest.
#3 Salah’s absence
The biggest news on the Liverpool front is Mohamed Salah’s absence. The Egyptian star picked up an ankle injury against Leicester City and as a result, sat out the trip to Old Trafford.
The number 11 shirt being hung up in the dressing room ahead of the Manchester fixture turned out to be a bluff, but it could also indicate that he is not far from being match fit.
However, it looks highly unlikely for Klopp to risk Salah on Wednesday. The Egyptian will most likely be replaced by Divock Origi. Origi is a familiar face for Genk, having spent nine years in Genk's youth system before moving to Lille in 2010.
With Alisson Becker and Joel Matip returning to action on Sunday, the only other big injury news would be that of Xherdan Shaqiri.
All that said, Genk can expect a strong Liverpool side to face them as the Reds look for their first away group stage win in over two years now.