Liverpool shift attention back to defending their European crown when they visit Belgian champions Genk on Wednesday evening.
Jurgen Klopp’s men were made to sweat last time out against Red Bull Salzburg, running out narrow 4-3 winners at Anfield, which saw them return to winning ways following an opening week defeat at Napoli.
Genk were humbled 6-2 by Salzburg but they admirably bounced back by holding Napoli to a goalless draw a fortnight ago. And with the Reds coming to town, the Smurfs – as they are often called – are hopeful of causing another upset.
Read on for Genk v Liverpool predictions, preview, team news and TV coverage information.
When is Genk vs Liverpool and where can I watch live?
Competition: Champions League
Venue: Luminus Arena
Date: Wednesday, 23 October 2019
Kick-off: 8:00 PM BST
TV coverage (UK): BT Sport 2
19 October 2019: Standard Liège 1-0 Genk (Belgian First Division A)
06 October 2019: Genk 2-1 Royal Excel Mouscron (Belgian First Division A)
02 October 2019: Genk 0-0 Napoli (Champions League)
24 September 2019: Ronse 0-3 Genk (Belgian Cup)
21 September 2019: Genk 3-1 KV Oostende (Belgian First Division A)
20 October 2019: Man Utd 1-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
05 October 2019: Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City (Premier League)
02 October 2019: Liverpool 2-1 Salzburg (Champions League)
28 September 2019: Sheffield United 0-1 Liverpool (Premier League)
25 September 2019: Milton Keynes Dons 0-2 Liverpool (League Cup)
Ones to watch
Genk: Joakim Maehle
Genk will not be naive to assume they’ll have the lion’s share of possession against the European champions. It will have to be a repeat of what they did right in their goalless home draw against Napoli earlier this month. Pivotal to their chances of causing an upset will be the defenders called upon, especially those stationed on the flanks. Joakim Maehle, in particular, looks up for the challenge and he will need to be when going toe-to-toe with Sadio Mane.
Key stat: Joakim Maehle averages 3.5 tackles per 90 in the Champions League this season.
Liverpool: Roberto Firmino
Gary Neville made a salient point about Roberto Firmino following Liverpool’s 1-1 draw with Man Utd at Old Trafford when discussing the role of modern strikers. Firmino, to him, embodies the selfless ‘number nine’ who makes those around him better, through creating ample goalscoring chances and, more importantly, the role he plays fits Klopp’s footballing vision. Yet to score in Europe this season, he nonetheless remains a huge threat.
Key stat: Roberto Firmino (7) has created more chances than any other Liverpool player in this season’s Champions League.
Genk must do without goalkeeper Danny Vukovic and left-back Neto Borges, both ruled out through injury, but manager Felice Mazzu is expected to retain much of the team he fielded in their goalless draw with Napoli last time out.
Predicted XI: Coucke; Maehle, Lucumi, Dewaest, Uronen; Heynen, Hagi, Berge; Ito, Samatta, Bongonda.
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The biggest news for Liverpool is that they will be without Trent Alexander-Arnold and Joel Matip for the trip to Genk, with the defenders ruled out with a virus and knee injury respectively. Nathaniel Clyne also remains a long-term absentee.
This means there could be starts for both Dejan Lovren and Joe Gomez, though James Milner would provide another option at right-back. Mohamed Salah remains a doubt after missing the weekend’s draw with Manchester United but could feature, although Xherdan Shaqiri is unlikely to be fit.
Predicted XI: Alisson; Gomez, Lovren, Van Dijk, Robertson; Milner, Fabinho, Wijnaldum; Mané, Firmino, Origi.
Liverpool’s recent form on the road is not befitting of Europe’s best. Klopp’s men – not counting the last two Champions League finals as they were played on neutral ground – have won just two of their last eight matches on the road, losing in the other six. This will no doubt be music to Genk’s ears but there’s no getting away from the gap in quality between the sides. Expect three more points to the Reds.
Scoreline prediction: Genk 0-2 Liverpool