Brendan Rodgers will be hoping his Liverpool side produce a more confident showing than against Ludogrets in a match which could go a long way to deciding who progresses from Group B with Real Madrid. The reds needed a Steven Gerrard penalty to secure victory against the Bulgarian champions in a nervy return to Champions League football, after Mario Balotelli had opened his account for the club.
Basel were demolished 5-1 by a rampant Real Madrid at the Bernabeu in their opening fixture, with Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo both on the scoresheet. However, St. Jakob Park has proved a tricky hunting ground for English clubs in the past – Chelsea and Manchester United have both lost there in recent seasons, while Liverpool drew their only clash there 3-3 in 2002. Rodgers will be hoping to draw on the experience of Jordan Henderson, Raheem Sterling and Rickie Lambert, all of whom were involved in England’s recent 2-0 victory over Switzerland at the stadium.
Whatever the result, the match should be a feast of attacking football – when Rodgers took the reins Swansea in 2010 he replaced Paolo Sousa, Basel’s current Portuguese coach, with both managers drawing plaudits for helping to forge the Welsh club’s attractive, flowing style.
KICK-OFF: Wednesday, 7.45pm
PAST THREE MEETINGS…
Basel 3 (Rossi, Giménez, Atouba) Liverpool 3 (Murphy, Smicer, Owen), Champions League, November 2002
Liverpool 1 (Baros) Basel 1 (Rossi), Champions League, September 2002
Last season, Basel won five of their eight home European fixtures and lost just once, to Schalke.
Liverpool have never failed to score in Switzerland, with 14 goals in five games.
Paolo Sousa and Brendan Rodgers have met twice as managers, both in the Championship – in December 2008 Sousa’s QPR met Rodgers’ Watford, and in 2009/10 Sousa’s Swansea met Rodgers’ Reading. Both matches ended goalless.
Mario Balotelli’s strike against Ludogrets was Liverpool’s first goal in the Champions League since Yossi Benayoun netted in a 2-1 defeat to Fiorentina in December 2009.
Basel to win: 3.6
Liverpool to win: 2.1
In their last meeting, in the 2002/3 group stages, Basel raced into a 3-0 lead within half an hour with goals from Julio Rossi, Christian Giminéz and TImothee Atouba. Second-half strikes from Danny Murphy, Vladimir Smicer and Michael Owen rescued a dramatic 3-3 draw, but Basel progressed at Liverpool’s expense.
TV: Live on Sky Sports 5 at 7.45pm, highlights on Sky Sports 5 at 10.00pm.
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