Liverpool v Augsburg preview: Selection dilemma for Jurgen Klopp
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 25/02/16 5:56pm
Liverpool host Augsburg in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday looking for the victory that will see them progress.
The first leg in Germany ended goalless meaning the equation is simple for Jurgen Klopp's side - win and they go through. Augsburg, meanwhile, know that a score draw would be enough to see them reach the last-16.
Only another goalless draw would see the match head into extra-time.
With the Capital One Cup final against Manchester City on Sunday, Klopp must decide whether to put out a full strength side against the Bundesliga outfit at Anfield and risk injuries as well as tiredness, or rest key players and increase the possibility of an early European exit.
While Liverpool have enjoyed a full week to prepare for the second leg, Augsburg were in domestic action, winning 1-0 at Hannover 96 on Sunday.
Klopp will be without Dejan Lovren with the defender struck down by illness having just returned to full training following a hamstring problem.
Adam Lallana (calf), Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel (both hamstring) remain sidelined and will be assessed ahead of the Capital One Cup final.
Augsburg are suffering something of an injury crisis ahead of their trip to Anfield. Top scorer Raul Bobadilla is out with the thigh injury that forced him off in the first leg while midfielder Markus Feulner is absent due to a broken cheekbone.
Daniel Baier (ankle), Raphael Framberger (knee), Hong Jeon-Ho (thigh), Piotr Trochowski (thigh) and Jan Moravek (head) will also be missing for Markus Weinzierl's side.
Liverpool have won nine of the 12 meetings with German opponents at Anfield (D3 - excluding East German teams), winning each of the last three matches.
Indeed, the Reds have kept a clean sheet on 11 of the 12 occasions. Although, they conceded last time out against Bayer 04 Leverkusen (3-1).
The 0-0 in the first leg against Liverpool was Augsburg's first game without a goal in the Europa League this season, scoring 12 in the previous six games in 2015-16.
Liverpool are unbeaten in seven Europa League matches (W2 D5), with both of their last two matches ending 0-0.
FC Augsburg are looking to reach the last 16 in their first ever European campaign.
Liverpool have been eliminated at the last 32 stage in each of their last two Europa League seasons, losing to Zenit St Petersburg in 2013 and Besiktas on penalties last year.
Only Athletic Club's Aritz Aduriz (7) has scored more goals than Raul Bobadilla in the Europa League this season (6).
Jurgen Klopp won five of his eight Bundesliga games against Augsburg, drawing two and losing one.
I still think it's difficult for Liverpool. They're not very good at home, some might even say they're not great away either, and it's one of these situations where they tend to get frustrated when they try to control games.
What does Jurgen Klopp do with the Capital One Cup final on Sunday? Does he risk Daniel Sturridge, because I don't think he can really force him into two big games in four days? Does he give Christian Benteke another chance?
I think if I was Klopp I'd be more interested in winning the final and I think he'll go with a strong side but not his strongest, leaving Sturridge on the bench.
I see Liverpool stumbling over the line here.
Charlie predicts: 1-0 and Benteke to score first (16/1 with Sky Bet)
Sky Bet make Liverpool 4/9 favourites for their Europa League last 32 second leg tie with 13/2 shots Augsburg, with the draw trading at 18/5. The sides shared a goalless draw in the first leg in Germany but Liverpool are unbeaten in their last five European ties at Anfield and are 4/11 to progress.
Sky Bet have a host of Price Boosts ahead of kick-off including Divock Origi to score in a Liverpool win now 15/8 from 13/8, while Liverpool to win 3-0 is now 11/1 from 9/1. Jamie Redknapp, Phil Thompson, Matt Le Tissier and Charlie Nicholas are all backing Liverpool to win on the night. See their predictions here.