MATCH PREVIEW: Liverpool V Besiktas
The Reds kick off their Europa League campaign on Thursday evening as they welcome Turkish side Besiktas to Anfield. Liverpool will surely still be feeling the disappointment of dropping out of the Champions League to gain their place in this competition however silverware is at stake and the winners are also automatically entered into next year's European Cup.
Add to this a return leg at the Ataturk Stadium and fond memories of the Champions League will certainly be bubbling up for the Reds who need to get off to a good start on home ground.
Injury news for Liverpool is relatively the same, a positive for Brendan Rodgers however was the return of Raheem Sterling to training this week. It will also be interesting to see whether the boss will start Mario Balotelli after his involvement in Liverpool's last two wins.
The main injury news for Besiktas leaves manager Slaven Bilic unable to call upon his goalkeeper Tolga Zengin who has been ruled out for a month.
Besiktas are currently top of their league just a point ahead of Fenerbache thanks to a Demba Ba winner in their last league game against Bursaspor on Sunday. Besiktas have lost just one of their last five league games.
Liverpool are on a great run of form having won or drawn their last nine matches in the league. The Reds last league win of course was that 3-2 victory over Spurs.
The last time the two sides met was in November 2007 and who could forget that game? An 8-0 win at Anfield saw goals from Peter Crouch, Ryan Babel, Yossi Benayoun and Steven Gerrard.
- Liverpool have won their last three matches against Turkish teams.
- Besiktas have met English opposition four times already this season.
- The Reds won just one of their Champions League games this season.
I asked you for your thoughts on the game and here are a few of the tweets I received:
@LFCKirstyLFC @LFC Liverpool 3 - 1 Besiktas #YNWA #LFC
— Suman Karki (@tsuheart) February 18, 2015
@LFCKirstyLFC 2-1 Ibe to scoreI said as soon as we drew Besiktas that I wasn't necessarily looking forward to these games, not in terms of excitement, I'm sure they will be very entertaining fixtures but I can see Liverpool getting knocked out.
— Irish Kopite (@Irish_KopiteLFC) February 18, 2015
Slaven Bilic leads his sides very well making them tough cookies to crack and it's always extremely difficult playing in a country like Turkey. Whilst I hope we may be able to get the better of them at home at the minute I've got a feeling it's going to be a score draw and then a big struggle at the Ataturk.
However, I am very often wrong... Very, very often so don't lose the faith! Haha.
I'll almost certainly have a quid on Skrtel first or last goalscorer tomorrow, it's my new favourite bet and I may have a few punts on the scoreline, follow my Twitter feed for updates on that.
Enjoy the match folks, wherever you are watching!