Liverpool v Spartak Moscow preview: Reds hoping to top group and secure last-16 spot
Last Updated: 06/12/17 7:25pm
Liverpool will be looking to top their Champions League group and secure their spot in the last 16 when they host Spartak Moscow on Wednesday.
Neither is assured yet for the Reds, although they currently sit in first place in Group E with nine points. They are one point ahead of Sevilla in second spot, while their opponents are in third place, three points behind Jurgen Klopp's side.
A draw will guarantee Liverpool a spot in the knockout stages and a win would make sure of top spot, while victory for Spartak Moscow will secure them a spot in the last 16.
Klopp has spoken about his excitement for the clash and was relaxed when asked about the position Liverpool find themselves in.
"All the good and bad things that have happened brought us into this situation. If we win that's cool. I know a lot of people think we could already be through but that's not life," he said.
"Spartak could say the same. They gave four points away against Maribor. I am really looking forward to it. They are in a good moment and they have very important offensive players back.
"It will be an exciting game. That's how Champions League should be. I cannot take it for granted and we have to prove our quality every day. Tomorrow is a very good match for us."
Adam Lallana, Joel Matip and Nathaniel Clyne will be sidelined for Liverpool but Joe Gomez and Ragnar Klavan are expected to return after illness.
For Spartak Moscow, Dmitri Kombarov will not be available after breaking a rib, while Jano Ananidze, Artem Timofeev and Georgi Tigiyev are also sidelined.
However, Georgi Dzhikiya will return from suspension to feature against Liverpool.
Liverpool are unbeaten against Spartak Moscow in the Champions League (W2 D1) with their last encounter at Anfield ending in a 5-0 win for the Reds.
Liverpool are unbeaten in their last seven Champions League games although five of those have ended in a draw.
Spartak Moscow have won only six of their last 40 Champions League games (D8 L26). They have also failed to keep a clean sheet in their last 15 outings in the competition.
Meanwhile, Spartak Moscow have also lost 22 of their last 28 Champions League away games (W5 D1).
This is Liverpool's 10th Champions League campaign, and only their second appearance in the group stages in the last eight seasons. They haven't reached the knockout stages of the Champions League since 2008/09.
Only Paris Saint-Germain (24) have scored more goals than Liverpool (16) in the Champions League this season. The Reds have also made more touches inside the opposition box than any other team (211).
Three of Liverpool's last four Champions League goals have been scored from corner kicks.
Spartak Moscow have reached the knockout stages of the Champions League only once in their 11 previous appearances, it was in 1995/96 (quarter-finalists).
Roberto Firmino has scored five goals and delivered two assists in his five Champions League appearances this season. Six of those seven goal contributions took place in the first-half.
Will Liverpool bottle it? I'd be very surprised if they did even after what happened in Seville. I'd expect them to do the business after another fine win at the weekend.
We know they've got defensive problems, especially with Joel Matip out, but I actually see this being a really comfortable night with their home record being very decent this season.
This is another one where I see the home crowd getting to the visitors and I think Liverpool will pick them off when they get desperate and come out.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 3-0, Mane to score first (20/1 with Sky Bet)
Liverpool are Sky Bet's 2/9 favourites with Spartak priced at 12/1, while the draw is a 6/1 chance. The Reds are 1/3 to win Group E, 22/1 to go on and win the competition and 6/1 to fail to qualify for the knockout stages. Mohamed Salah heads the first goalscorer betting at 3/1, while Quincy Promes is considered the visitors' main threat at 8/1 to net first.