Liverpool are likely to welcome back influential, and inspirational, skipper Jordan Henderson as well as left-back Andy Robertson for the visit of Atletico Madrid to Anfield in the 2nd leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday. The tie hangs in the balance with Atleti 1-0 up from the first game in Spain and, at the time of writing, it is unsure if the Reds will be able to call on the services of keeper Alisson who picked up a hip injury ahead of the trip to Chelsea in the FA Cup last week. His absence would be a big, but hardly insurmountable, blow.
Both sides have conceded in each of the seven games they have played between them – Liverpool 4 Atletico 3 – since the 1st leg in the Spanish capital last month and there are reports in the Spanish press that Los Rojiblancos will not sit back and defend at Anfield, but try and get what might prove to be a vital away goal.
Both teams to score looks overpriced at 11/10 with Boylesports – especially if Alisson does not recover from his recent injury. Jurgen Klopp must decide whether he plays James Milner in the Liverpool midfield after his MOTM performance against Bournemouth at the weekend. I think the German will persevere with Fabinho and Gini Wijnaldum although neither have been at their best for some time.
Liverpool are 5/6 to qualify for the quarterfinals with William Hill and that is the recommendation.
Despite losing three of their last five games in all competitions, the Reds have dug in and found ways to win, arguably, since the turn of the year even when not at their very best. Atleti have reached two Champions League Finals and three Europa League Finals in the last decade and yes, a goal for Diego Simeone’s side would mean the hosts need three, or more, to make the last eight. But this is Anfield on a European night and I expect the holders to make it through.
There will be no pre-match handshaking and I’m not convinced there will be too many during the game either. Five or more cards is 10/11 at bet365 and that is also considered too big a price although Dutch referee Danny Makkelie only averages three yellow cards per game in the four Champion League games he has officiated so far this term, although he averages 5 per game in the Europa League.
Wednesday’s other Champions League tie between Paris SG and Borussia Dortmund will be played behind closed doors as a result of the current global COVID-19 crisis. The Bundesliga outfit take a 2-1 lead into the second leg and I would expect both sides will find the back of the net in what promises to be an eerie and strange atmosphere in the French capital.
Manchester United are one of just two former winners of the Europa League in the last 16 – other Sevilla – and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s improving side go to Austria and a meeting with LASK on Thursday. The Austrian outfit currently top their Bundesliga table by six points from Red Bull Salzburg and they topped their Europa League group before the turn of the year.
LASK have won seven of their eight home games in the Europa League in the last two seasons but this is the first time they will have met Premier League opposition in their history. United’s January signing Bruno Fernandes is the joint leading scorer in the competition so far this season with six and one of those was for his former club Sporting Lisbon against LASK in the group stages of the competition. The Portuguese international should certainly be able to give Solskjaer the low down on the Austrians.
United are 23/20 to take a lead back to Old Trafford next week but this has been a busy time for United and the recommendation is the draw at 5/2 with Unibet. I expect United to finish the job back in Manchester next week.
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