Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool side host Maribor in their fourth Champions League group stage game on Wednesday evening, coming off a thumping 7-0 victory in the away fixture. Following that excellent performance in Slovenia, nothing less than another win is expected at Anfield in midweek, to strengthen Liverpool’s position in qualifying for the knockout stages of the competition. If the Reds maintain their game plan and go into the game without any overconfidence and stubbornness, they should have more than enough to get the three points.
Liverpool vs Maribor: Liverpool’s Keys to Victory
Patience and Composure in Attack
The 3-0 win against Huddersfield on Saturday was a prime example of how patience can pay off in these sorts of home games. Following a poor first half, the opening goal came from Daniel Sturridge. The English forward capitalised off a defensive error from the Terriers’ back line and from there, the goals continued to flow comfortably. It showed both how important the first goal is in these matches, but also how persistence and patience from Klopp’s side at home against lower level opposition will eventually lead to goals.
Maribor may present slightly different opposition, but the same rules should apply. The Slovenian side will likely set up to defend, so patience and composure is integral. Maintaining the attacking shape and sticking to the game plan should eventually lead to goal-scoring opportunities for Liverpool. From there, the Reds can possibly increase their lead further.
Calmness in Defence
In the 2017/18 Premier League season so far, Liverpool have only conceded one goal at home. They will need to try and bring this sort of defensive form to the table for Champions League matches too if they are to go far in the competition. The likes of Dejan Lovren and Simon Mignolet have been heavily criticised in recent weeks, as well as the entire back five as a defensive unit. With a mix of costly individual errors and poor defensive setup from set pieces in particular, this is still a group that have looked very shaky throughout the early stages of the season.
Maribor will still get their opportunities. Whether they are from set pieces or open play, any success in this game will start from the ability to contain any attacking threat that Maribor may possess. Following a clean sheet on Saturday in the league, and a clean sheet in the reverse fixture back in mid-October, similar solidity at the back will be required in order to put the team on the front foot from the get-go.
Key Players to Get the Job Done
Whilst Klopp will be looking for solid performances throughout the side, the ability to win the game and put Liverpool in a strong position will still most likely rest with the quality attacking players in the team. Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino are both potential fitness doubts for this fixture, so the burden may lie on the likes of Mohamed Salah. The Egyptian forward has hit the ground running following his transfer from Roma in the summer, and has quickly established himself as a major part of the Reds’ attacking unit. Salah has already netted eight goals, as well as clocking up three assists in all competitions this season.
As well as Salah, players such as Daniel Sturridge and even Dominic Solanke may be called upon in attack. Sturridge bagged the opener against Huddersfield, and will hope to be on the scoresheet again in midweek if required. These are the sorts of players that will need to take their chances early, and see Liverpool off for a comfortable victory at Anfield on Wednesday.