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Champions League Preview: Liverpool (Sevilla, Group E)

Gerry Johnston spoke to @Scraggy_74  of @thesefootytimes and @thisisanfield about Liverpool’s draw in the Champions League. 

How long have you been a fan of Liverpool and what made you start supporting them in the first place?

Since year dot. I’m a product of Liverpudlian parents, and have always lived within a short car journey of the city. My first game was at the age of 3, in November 1977, the 2nd leg of the European Super Cup, SV Hamburg, and the return of Kevin Keegan, just a few short months after he’d left the club. We won 6-0, and Terry McDermott gave an absolute masterclass. I just remember the greenness of the pitch under the floodlights and some rancid black peas in a polystyrene cup.

As a Liverpool fan what are your initial thoughts on the draw?

A winnable group, offset by subtle dangers. We can walk it, or fall flat on our face. Maribor are a new opponent, while we’ve had dealings with Spartak and Sevilla before. The trips to Russia and Spain will be seen as the trickiest fixtures, but positive results against Maribor will be essential.

Do you think the fact Liverpool and Sevilla met in the 2016 Europa League Final will have any impact on these two ties?

It might play on the mind of those players remaining at the club from that final subconsciously, but it’s the fans who are likely to want revenge more than the players. Jürgen Klopp tends to deal with each game from a fresh start, so I doubt he’ll be losing sleep over what went before.

When Sevilla come to Anfield what sort of atmosphere can they expect?

I’d expect a friendly, but passionate atmosphere. Anfield thrives on its European nights, and away fans are always given a warm welcome. Sevilla should be no different. Anfield isn’t a place where previous defeats are taken personally, so there’ll be no animosity over the 2016 Europa League final.

Have Liverpool done much business this summer?

Mohamed Salah, Andrew Robertson and Dominic Solanke. More were hoped for, particularly in central defence, the Virgil van Dijk saga rolls on toward transfer deadline day, while Naby Keita was another frustration. Of those we did get over the line, we all seem to be more than happy with them. Without those other couple of signings, we might well find ourselves stretched as the season goes on however.

How is Jurgen Klopp likely to set the team up tactically and if everyone is fit who would be the first eleven?

Klopp is very much of the school of thought that the opposition should worry about us more than we worry about them. We play with a flexible 4-3-3, which is more like a 4-1-2-2-1 at times. Mignolet will play in goal, Lovren and Matip at centre back, Clyne at right back, if fit, Alexander-Arnold if not, Moreno or Robertson at left back, Henderson, Can and Wijnaldum in midfield, and perm any three from Firmino, Salah, Mane, Coutinho in the forward three.

Who is the main player that Sevilla need to stop if they are going to get a result against Liverpool?

Mane. He is unstoppable in full flight.

What are Liverpool’s expectations in the Champions League this season?

Klopp will want to win it, while the fans are likely to be more circumspect. Get past the group stages first, and then let’s see what we can do from there.

Tell us where you think the four sides will finish in the group?

1st Sevilla, 2nd Liverpool. 3rd Spartak, 4th Maribor.

 

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