Thanks to our friends at The Liverpool Offside for answering a few questions about the Europa League semifinal return leg tonight at Anfield.
1. How important is the Europa League now for Liverpool? Would it salvage another disappointing Premier League campaign?
The Europa League isn't everything, it's the only thing for Liverpool. We're hungry for silverware, and (arguably) even hungrier for Champions League football. Liverpool is built on European success, and we're very anxious to get back to a European final. And yes, it would definitely salvage another disappointing Premier League campaign (especially considering we can then wave our Golden Champions League Ticket in the faces of the teams above us, most notably Manchester United).
2. Starting XI -- how much does Klopp go for it from the outset knowing an away goal may be curtains?
I think Klopp surprised a lot of people, myself very much included--by setting up so defensively last week, and by starting Roberto Firmino up top. The game plan nearly worked out. Though, obviously not. But to your question: yes, I think Klopp will come out guns a blazin'. I expect him to play Sturridge, try to nab an early goal, get Anfield rocking, and create another memorable European Night on Merseyside. And given the three-goal deficit Liverpool overturned at home in the last round against Dortmund, I don't think Kloppo will be too worried about conceding a goal. (Note to Klopp & Co, please don't concede another early goal, our hearts can't take a repeat of Dortmund).
3. Cedric Bakambu -- how does Liverpool handle his pace and power?
Good question. Do what they did for large swathes of the ninety in Spain, keep him in front of you, pinch his providers early, and stay disciplined enough to set the offside trap and not get pulled apart in central areas by his runs. He seemed much more a means to an end in the first leg, I think I'm more worried about what that last goal revealed for Marcelino about our wide areas.
4. Score prediction.
1-0 to Liverpool, winning on pens as we do.