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Reds Column IV

Champions League 2020-21 Preview: RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

After their loss to the hosts Leicester City Fc in the Premier League, Liverpool Fc are due to play against the hosts RB Leipzig in the First Leg of the Champions League 2020-21 Round of 16.

Date: 16 February 2021 (Tuesday) ; Time: 8:00 p.m (BST) kick-off ; Venue: Puskás Aréna, Budapest, Hungary.

The German Bundesliga side RB Leipzig were scheduled to host Liverpool Fc (The Reds) in Leipzig for the First Leg of the Champions League 2020-21 Round of 16 but the Match was later moved to Budapest (after careful deliberations).

In an effort to prevent transmission of a new variant of COVID-19 that emerged in England recently, the German Government imposed a ban on all travel from the UK for the foreseeable future and as such, declined to offer special dispensation for the Reds to travel to Leipzig, Germany for this game.

The German Interior Ministry informed RB Leipzig that the upcoming game did not meet the requirements for an exemption. So, after co-ordinating with relevant Parties; UEFA then announced that this game was moved from Leipzig to Budapest.

The Return Leg at Anfield on 10 March 2021 is also under serious threat as there might be likely restrictions from concerning Government Authorities in order to curb the transmission of COVID-19.

And (if that happens) like RB Leipzig, the Reds would also need to find a suitable venue or risk getting handed down 3-0 loss by UEFA as forfeit.

Having meekly surrendered their Premier League Crown, the Reds now have only the Champions League Trophy as their only realistic chance of winning a silverware this Season.

Domestically; the Reds were simply under par as they have been knocked out in all the English Domestic Knockout Competitions and are currently in serious danger of missing out on Champions League Football next Season, after losing to the hosts Leicester City Fc.

RB Leipzig on the other hand are second in the Table behind League Leaders and perennial Bundesliga Champions FC Bayern Munich (who are also the current World Champions).

Despite the cordial business relationship between the Club Owners; this will be the first time that both sides will face each other.

This game could likely be a chance for RB Leipzig Manager Julian Nagelsmann to audition for the position as the future Reds Manager (after Jürgen Klopp vacates in the future).

After losing to the hosts Leicester City Fc, the Reds has now lost 3 games on the trot and without the injured Van Dijk, the Reds defence looks particularly shaky.

Even the dependable World Class Goalkeeper Alisson Becker made grave errors in back-to-back Premier League games.

After two-and-a-half Seasons of winning major trophies, the Reds overall performance has since been on an downward spiral despite the odd wins in between.

Everyone connected with the Reds does not need to be reminded of what happened to the Reds that won the Champions League 2004-05 Trophy.

The current Reds can reignite their Season and emulate the performances achieved by the Reds that won the Champions League 2004-05 Trophy.

Like the Champions League 2004-05 Finals; the Champions League 2020-21 Finals is scheduled to be held in Istanbul, Turkey on 29 May 2021.

However, RB Leipzig like other Reds Opponents would have extensively planned well against the Reds and might adopt similar tactics like the visitors Manchester City Fc.

 

Reds Team Injuries and Suspensions: The Reds squad has been further decimated with more injuries as even before the Leicester City Fc away fixture; Fabinho was ruled out due to unspecified minor muscle issue. There might be a likelihood that the versatile Brazilian might miss the upcoming games but the Club will be hoping for his quick recovery.

Divock Origi was ruled out due to a hamstring injury prior to the Leicester City Fc away game. The Belgian International will be out of action for the immediate future.

Newcomer Ben Davis was also sidelined before the Leicester City Fc away clash as the young Englishman suffered a minor knock in the training but the Club will be hopeful for his quick recovery.

Very early in the Leicester City Fc away Match, James Milner sustained a hamstring injury and like Origi, the Veteran will also be ruled out for an indeterminate period.

Joël Matip has been sidelined for the rest of the Season; after sustaining ankle ligament damage during the Tottenham Hotspur Fc away Match.

Joe Gomez and Virgil Van Dijk have stepped up their rehabilitation but both remains ruled out for an unspecified period after undergoing successful surgeries on their injured knees.

No timescale has been on the return of the Defensive Trio but they are unlikely to play this Season.

Despite stepping up his rehabilitation, (contrary to the belief) Diogo Jota is still weeks away from returning back in action after sustaining a knee injury during the FC Midtjylland away game.

Due to an unspecified muscle related issue, Naby Keïta has been ruled out and is also weeks away from returning back in action but might return earlier than Jota.

The Club has opted to be patient by giving ample time for Jota and Keïta in order to help them fully recover from their injuries.

 

Verdict: Despite having an underwhelming Season, the upcoming game will present a perfect opportunity for Thiago Alcântara to truly showcase his World Class skills and creativity in the midfield for the Reds.

Thiago played a pivotal role to help FC Bayern Munich to win the last Season’s Champions League Trophy and the Spaniard can play a similar role in helping the Reds to win the Champions League 2020-21 Trophy.

For that to happen, Klopp must seriously consider switching from the usual 4-3-3 Formation and adopt 4-2-3-1 Formation with Thiago given the license to move freely in the final third as this might be best way going forward as well.

Seeing an emotional Klopp concede the Club’s chances of retaining the Premier League crown, just shows his humility and proves his heart is at the right place.

Having been unable to see his Mother for a long period of time due to the local Government’s restrictions to curb COVID-19, Klopp also has to painfully deal with his inability to attend his Mother’s funeral as well as manage the Club.

After all, he is human. Despite making contentious tactical decisions (especially of late); Klopp richly deserves the full unconditional support, love and commendations from everyone connected with the Club.

Whatever is or will be mentioned being about Klopp; the undeniable things managed by the German Gaffer was he brought unprecedented success to the Reds by winning Champions League 2018-19 Trophy (first time since 2005); the Club’s first ever FIFA Club World Cup and the coveted Premier League Title (after 3 decades years which previous Managers failed to deliver during that time).

 

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