Tag Archives: Liverpool

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – Champions League Last 16 predictions

The Champions League last 16 fixtures are finally upon us after a two month break since the group stages.

In one of the biggest ties of the round we’ll see Italian champions Inter Milan in their first knockout round since the 2011/12 season, and they’ll take on Premier League heavyweights Liverpool.

Lets take a look at the tie in more detail and make our predictions to see who will progress into the last eight of Europe’s most prestigious cup competition.

Route to the last 16

It was two very different group stages for these two sides, with Simone Inzaghi’s men battling it out with Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Sheriff until the final day.

It wasn’t until defeat to Madrid in that final group game that they were unable to win the group, but with three wins from the other five games they managed to secure the runners-up spot.

They scored only eight goals during the groups, and conceded five, so there is plenty of room for improvement there. Domestically, they currently a point behind rivals AC Milan with a game in hand.

For Liverpool, it was quite literally the perfect campaign.

A group of death containing AC Milan, Atletico Madrid and FC Porto was expected to cause them problems but Jurgen Klopp’s side made it six wins from six to become the first English side to earn a 100% record in the competition’s history.

They scored a wonderful 17 goals in six games, conceding six to come into the knockout stages as one team that everyone wanted to avoid.

Team news

Inter will be missing their key midfielder Nicolo Barella for the first leg after he was sent off in the final group game against Real Madrid.

Arturo Vidal should replace him, while Ivan Perisic is likely to continue at left-wing-back with January signing Robert Gosens still injured.

Nicolo Barella FC Internazionale Milano leaves the pitch after receiving a red card during the UEFA Champions League group D match between Real...

Liverpool are essentially at full strength and Klopp has got the strongest squad of his entire tenure at Anfield to choose from currently.

Diogo Jota will likely return to the team after missing the weekend win over Burnley, while Luis Diaz will probably start on the bench since both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah are back from AFCON.

Breakdown and Prediction

Inzaghi will stick with his 3-5-2 system that he loves, with Lautaro Martinez likely partnered up front by Edin Dzeko.

The midfield strength with Brozovic and Calhanoglu gives lots of balance and with Vidal going box-to-box they can go toe-to-toe with the Liverpool midfield.

In attack though, Liverpool are likely to cause far problems to Inter than vice-versa. They have great depth and goals from all three attackers are possible, but Inter have adapted their system in Europe under Inzaghi and are difficult to beat.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool with Sadio Mane of Liverpool during a training session at AXA Training Centre on February 11, 2022 in Kirkby, England.

Without any real pace in behind though, Liverpool should be able to deal with their best attacking threats and while a clean sheet won’t be easy I would be surprised if Inter grabbed a goal at Anfield.

Because of that and the added depth they have in their squad, I expect Liverpool to progress through this tie but don’t be surprised if they make hard work of it.

Inter Milan 1-1 Liverpool
Liverpool 2-0 Inter Milan
(Liverpool to qualify 3-1 on aggregate)


How does the Luis Diaz signing impact Mohamed Salah future at Liverpool?

Liverpool were up to their usual tricks during the January transfer window, swooping in late and quickly to secure a top target.

After Tottenham made a bid for Porto’s Colombian star Luis Diaz, Jurgen Klopp made the decision to move early for a player he had identified as a key target for the summer window.

They swooped in, secured a deal worth a total of £50m and they now have a brand new weapon in their attack to unleash on the second half of the Premier League season.

But as soon as the deal was confirmed and announced, many fans began to wonder what that meant for the future of superstar Mo Salah, whose current contract expires at the end of next season.

The future of Salah has been a conversation for a while, with both parties publicly stating their wish to continue their relationship.

However with reports that the Egyptian is requesting a record wage for the club, it has been met with resistance from the board.

As Salah approaches his 30th birthday, it’s only natural that he wants a big payday in his final big contract. But on top of that, his performances since moving to Anfield mean that he feels he should be earning on par with the other best players in the world. He’s not wrong.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool celebrates after scoring his sides first goal during the UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Second Leg match between...

But further to Salah, the contracts of Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino also expire next summer and it’s more likely that their places in the team are under threat from Diaz’s arrival than Salah’s.

My personal expectation is that the two parties will find a compromise and thrash out a deal that sees Salah stay at the club as their highest-paid player ever, before eventually riding off into the sunset in a few years when he’s past his peak.

But for Mane, many have seen his influence diminish in recent years and he won’t have nearly as much leverage when it comes to demanding a big contract at his age.

Firmino is in the most danger, having already lost his place in the team to Diogo Jota and finding that he’s not as important as he once was in a red shirt.

Luis Diaz of FC Porto runs with the ball during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and FC Porto at Anfield on November 24,...

Add to all that the fact that Diaz is a right-footed winger who likes to cut in from the left, he could quite easily play in the same team as Salah and provide a terrifying attacking threat for Klopp and Liverpool.

While Liverpool fans are focused on potentially losing one of the best attackers to ever don the shirt and represent the club, they should probably be worried about losing the other two attackers that made up part of their famous trio.

If Salah ends up agreeing terms as many expect him to eventually do, that leaves less in the budget to renew Mane and Firmino’s deals and with a ready-made replacement already in the squad it seems more likely one of those will leave in the summer.

Full redrawn Champions League Last 16 draw – Fixtures and dates

The UEFA Champions League last 16 draw has been re-drawn after a botched attempt on Monday morning, and has thrown up some cracking ties.

At the second attempt of trying, Manchester United were drawn with Spanish champions Atletico Madrid while Real Madrid will take on Paris Saint-Germain in the tie of the round.

Manchester City will face Sporting CP, while Liverpool take on Inter Milan. Chelsea were the winners of the redraw, keeping their original opponents in Ligue 1’s Lille.

The original draw saw Manchester United once again set to face off against Paris Saint-Germain, with Cristiano Ronaldo to go head-to-head with Lionel Messi once again in the tie of the round.

Atletico Madrid were scheduled to take on Bayern Munich in the other mega tie, while the other English sides would have been happy with their draws as Liverpool faced Salzburg, Man City faced Villarreal.

However UEFA accidentally put Manchester United into the pot to be drawn against Villarreal and then they were selected, despite being ineligible to do so having come from the same group.

United then weren’t put into the pot for the potential opponents of Atletico amid the confusion, meaning they could never have been drawn against each other.

The draw will now be re-done at 14:00 UK time after several complaints that the botched draw affected the integrity of the competition going forward.

The fixtures will take place in February, with the first legs taking place on February 15/16 or 22/23 with the second legs taking place on March 8/9 or 15/16. Group winners will play their home game in the second leg.

Full draw and fixture dates:

FC Salzburg vs Bayern Munich – February 16th 2022
Bayern Munich vs FC Salzburg – March 8th 2022

Sporting CP vs Manchester City – February 15th 2022
Manchester City vs Sporting CP – March 9th 2022

SL Benfica vs Ajax – February 23rd 2022
Ajax vs SL Benfica – March 15th 2022

Chelsea vs Lille – February 22nd 2022
Lille vs Chelsea – March 16th 2022

Atletico Madrid vs Manchester United – February 23rd 2022
Manchester United vs Atletico Madrid – March 15th 2022

Villarreal vs Juventus – February 22nd 2022
Juventus vs Villarreal – March 16th 2022

Inter Milan vs Liverpool – February 16th 2022
Liverpool vs Inter Milan – March 8th 2022

Paris Saint-Germain vs Real Madrid – February 15th 2022
Real Madrid vs Paris Saint-Germain – March 9th 2022

Rafa Benitez must give Everton fans a reason to love him

One of the big stories in the summer was that of Rafa Benitez joining Everton as manager to replace the departed Carlo Ancelotti.

After the Italian re-joined Real Madrid in a shock move to surprise Everton, the Toffees took their time to appoint his replacement.

There were talks with Frank Lampard, Eddie Howe and Nuno Espirito Santo but ultimately, the decision of the owner Farhad Moshiri was to bring in Liverpool fan favourite Benitez.

Immediately fans protested the decision, letting it be known that they were not happy with his involvement in the club considering the brilliant history he has with their fiercest rivals.

Benitez famously won the UEFA Champions League in 2005 as Reds boss while also leading them on a title charge as they competed with Manchester United and Chelsea in the late 2000’s.

Despite some ugly scenes before he was officially announced in the role, Benitez took over officially before the season started and took charge of pre-season where he signed the likes of Andros Townsend and Demarai Gray.

The season started well too, with three wins from the opening four Premier League games as well as progression in the Carabao Cup against Huddersfield. Since then though, it’s been a bit of a nightmare.

Everton manager Rafa Benitez greets his players after the Premier League match between Everton and Southampton at Goodison Park on August 14, 2021 in...

A 3-0 defeat to Aston Villa on September 18th was the start of seven defeats in ten games, with just one win in that run that has led them to tonight’s Merseyside derby against their in-form city rivals.

A video from the away section of their defeat against Brentford at the weekend showed just how angry Everton fans are right now, and considering Benitez was fighting a losing battle when he took the job initially it hasn’t got any easier for him now.

Something that would undoubtedly get Blues fans on side would be a victory against the Anfield side, who have long been labelled as one of the very best teams in the world currently.

One of those classic defensive performances with some strong counter-attacking threat and a potential upset win, would be the perfect remedy for the fans and go some way to showing exactly where his loyalties lie these days.

Everton manager Rafael Benítez during the Premier League match between Wolverhampton Wanderers and Everton at Molineux on November 01, 2021 in...

Whether it comes against Liverpool or in the following games against Arsenal, Crystal Palace or Chelsea, Benitez needs to do something and quickly.

The longer this stretch of bad form goes on for, the less likely it is that the fans will be forgiving to him as the season becomes harder and harder to resurrect.

The same way Benitez endeared himself to Liverpool fans by winning big games and trophies, the Spaniard must find a way to make Everton fans love him.

Liverpool proving they can win without Mo Salah firing

It says something about the strength of the Premier League right now that three of the top four teams in the world right now are plying their trade in England’s top flight.

Alongside Bayern Munich of the Bundesliga, Man City, Chelsea and Liverpool are running riot as the best and most effective teams in the world right now.

In those teams are some of the best players in the world right now, but arguably the best of the bunch currently is Anfield hero Mohamed Salah.

The Egyptian has been in the form of his life so far this season, registering an amazing 17 goals and eight assists in 18 games in all competitions.

But as Liverpool played host to Southampton on Saturday afternoon, for once he wasn’t firing on all cylinders. Even despite that though, Liverpool were able to run out 4-0 winners thanks to goals from Diogo Jota, Thiago and Virgil Van Dijk.

Salah did register an assist, but the overall performance for Liverpool was very encouraging against a good side in Southampton.

The full-backs were flying once again, with both Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold registering assists, while the midfield were able to dominate the ball and also chip in with creativity too.

It was the performance of Portuguese forward Jota that would have been most encouraging for Jurgen Klopp though, as he continued his excellent form with two goals early in the first half.

For a player who was initially signed as cover for the famous front three, Jota’s form and performances have pushed him firmly into consideration for a regular starting role in the team ahead of Roberto Firmino.

One of the big things for Liverpool’s attack was that all three players didn’t need to be firing for them to be influential on the result of a game, but Firmino’s drop-off over the last 18 months had essentially taken one of their weapons away.

Jota’s work rate means Liverpool are able to restore the feeling without Firmino, but his added quality in attack means they are back to having a three-pronged attack that is capable of rotating and going toe-to-toe with any defence in the world.

For Liverpool that can only be a good thing. It means that when a team does manage to halt the momentum of Salah, or even Sadio Mane for that matter, they still have one more weapon in their arsenal to punish the opposition.

It’s amazing for Liverpool and just another reason why they’re among the best teams in the world currently.

Liverpool have a Sadio Mane dilemma

Liverpool continued their brilliant start to the season thanks to a 4-0 win over Arsenal at the weekend, with Sadio Mane once again on the scoresheet for the Reds.

It was the winger’s 106th goal in 234 appearances for the club, as he currently takes part in a sixth season with the club since his £30million move from Southampton back in 2016.

But as the Senegalese star enters the final 18 months of his contract, Liverpool are suddenly in a dilemma with one of the key members of their attacking unit.

Since the arrival of Jurgen Klopp at Anfield, only Mohammed Salah has scored more goals for the club than Mane.

His pace, agility, directness, skill, physicality and technique have set him apart as one of the very best wingers in the Premier League and Europe but now at the age of 29 there is a decision to make for both player and club.

Mane is entering the final 18 months of his contract at the club, just like Salah is. Discussions over a new contract are yet to begin and with the club reportedly keen to re-sign Salah too there may be no space for them to sign both.

Reports suggest that the Egyptian wants a big pay-rise and with his importance to the side completely unquestionable, that could affect the budget in a big way.

Mane is unlikely to want to be second fiddle forever, and rightly so. At any other club in the world he would likely be the main man in the attack, with the ability to score 20+ goals per season and assist a huge amount too.

His ability to go in both directions and use both feet, while also being an aerial threat despite his diminutive stature, makes him an absolute nightmare for defenders.

At 29, Mane will be signing the last long-term contract of his career whether it is at Liverpool or not. He’ll want the one last big payday, like anyone else would, while also wanting some sort of assurances of being a key member of the team.

While Liverpool would no doubt be keen to sign Mane to fresh terms, but are they likely to give him the pay-rise and long-term deal he would crave considering everything else happening at the club? Probably not.

So the decision becomes whether they let him run his contract down and lose him for free, or sell him in the summer.

Sadio Mane of Liverpool celebrates after scoring a goal to make it 2-0 during the UEFA Champions League group B match between Liverpool FC and...

Should they choose to sell him, they won’t be short of suitors. Barcelona and Real Madrid have been linked to him in the past, while Paris Saint-Germain could potentially be looking to replace Kylian Mbappe in the summer too.

But if they let him go, they will be strengthening a European rival with one of the best players in the world.

The most likely outcome is that they find an agreement to extend his stay for an extra two or three years with a pay-rise that isn’t quite what Mane wanted, but enough to convince him to sign on.

But the club are running out of time to make it all happen, and the longer they wait the more likely an exit becomes.

How Steven Gerrard can set himself up for Liverpool with Aston Villa

Since the day Steven Gerrard left Liverpool for LA Galaxy back in 2015, the countdown has been on as to when he would eventually return.

After two seasons in Hollywood, Gerrard returned to Anfield to coach the academy and youth teams after impressing Jurgen Klopp with his work ethic and passion for the job.

Then followed the job at Rangers, where he really established himself as one of the better up and coming British managers in the game right now.

Gerrard spent three years at Rangers rebuilding the club to be able to compete with Celtic once again, eventually culminating in winning them their first Scottish Premiership title since the 2010/11 season.

But midway through this campaign Gerrard accepted the approach of Aston Villa to become the new manager and has made the move back to the Premier League.

At Villa he will have a strong squad, filled with young, talented players and capable of playing several different systems. On paper, Gerrard seems like the perfect fit for a club with aspirations such as theirs and a fan-base like theirs.

The issue for Villa fans is that they know that should he become a success for them, Liverpool will come calling eventually.

Jurgen Klopp manager of Liverpool with Steven Gerrard manager of Rangers during training session before the UEFA Champions League final between Real...

Jurgen Klopp has all but admitted that once he reaches the end of his current Anfield contract in 2024 that he will likely leave and take a break from management, so this seems like the perfect time for Gerrard to make the leap over to England’s top flight.

For Gerrard it’s a chance to implement his style and imprint of the beautiful game at the highest level and see if it can transition over in the same way it did in Scotland.

If he is able to bring through some of the many academy prospects on the brink of first-team football and bring success back to a club that has been struggling this season, then the calls for him to be Klopp’s successor will seem justified.

If he fails to make an impact and impression though, then talk is likely to be seen as too premature.

Glasgow Rangers' English head coach Steven Gerrard reacts from the sidelines during the Champions League qualiying match Malmo FF v Rangers in Malmo,...

Gerrard made a name for himself playing attacking football but with a rock solid defence in Scotland, so if he can recreate that with Villa it’ll be a good start.

He didn’t need a superstar to carry the team, he did it with great teamwork and spirit and a tactical setup that worked for his side. He will need to do the same at Villa and the chances are that he will find some sort of success there.

This is the step for Gerrard to prove himself as the next top boss or out himself as just another hyped up ex-pro. Which way it goes decides on whether Liverpool have found their next manager or not.

Liverpool see unbeaten run ended as West Ham lay the blueprint

Liverpool’s 25-game unbeaten run has been snapped thanks to David Moyes’ West Ham after a 3-2 defeat at the London Stadium on Sunday.

West Ham took the lead early on after Pablo Fornals’ corner went straight in after a slight touch from goalkeeper Alisson Becker. Liverpool took over the game a bit more as the half went on, and Trent Alexander-Arnold equalised with a brilliant free-kick just before half-time.

The second half was more even but West Ham were dangerous on the counter and finally got a breakthrough with about 20 minutes left as Jarrod Bowen danced through the midfield and played the ball through to Fornals who tucked the ball into the corner. It was then 3-1 minutes later as Zouma headed home from a corner, before substitute Divock Origi pulled one back to make it a nervy ending with a brilliant finish.

It was a terrific performance from the Hammers, who moved up to third in the Premier League ahead of Liverpool in the table and level on points with Man City just three points behind Chelsea at the top.

For Liverpool, their club record of unbeaten games could only be tied in the end with a poor performance bringing it to an end.

Klopp was unhappy with the way the first goal came about, believing that Alisson was fouled but ultimately the right team won on the day and West Ham have now set a blueprint for how to win against Liverpool.

They camped deep and narrow defensively, using their aerially dominant defenders to clear out crosses from the likes of Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson, while Declan Rice and Tomas Soucek were there to clean up any loose balls.

Going forward Fornals, Bowen and Said Benrahma were direct and also excellent at keeping possession higher up the pitch to help relieve some pressure. Michail Antonio was once again brilliant leading the line too, using his physical presence to battle with Virgil Van Dijk and Joel Matip and also his pace to run in behind and stretch the defence.

It was a complete performance and showed the holes in the Liverpool team, especially without a natural striker in the box to attack their crosses and a high line which can sometimes leave them susceptible to pace.

Liverpool are still among the best teams in Europe and one of the favourites for the Premier League title, but a lack of serious squad depth could become an issue as the season goes on and the fact they’ll lose Sadio Mane and Mo Salah in the new year for the African Cup of Nations is huge too.

West Ham continue to exceed expectations, with 10/12 points in Europe this season as well as wins over Liverpool, Tottenham, Leicester, Manchester United and Man City in all competitions too. They’re a problem for anyone and Moyes deserves a lot of credit for the job he’s done.

Liverpool can put demons to rest against Atletico Madrid in Champions League

It was almost two years ago when Liverpool were beaten home and away by Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid side as defending European champions.

After dominating domestically and running away with the Premier League title in the 2019/20 season, they were expected to make a run at winning the Champions League in consecutive seasons.

However when they were paired up with Atletico Madrid in a two-legged last 16 affair, they found out just how tough the Spaniards can be to beat.

Saul Niguez’s goal gave Atleti a 1-0 lead heading into the tie at Anfield, before a thrilling encounter in the final game in front of fans for over a year.

Gini Wijnaldum’s goal in the 43rd minute meant extra-time was upon us and then Roberto Firmino gave the Reds a lead. Three minutes later though Marcos Llorente got Atleti back into the game, before he scored a second to silence Anfield.

Alvaro Morata then wrapped the game up in stoppage time to make it home and away wins against the reigning European champions.

Liverpool’s season after that stalled, literally and form-wise, as the pandemic took over the main storyline of the year and Jurgen Klopp’s side were eventually crowned champions without really needing to restart at all.

Last season became a write-off for the defending champions as they suffered immensely with injuries and poor form, crashing out of Europe at the quarter-final stage to Atletico’s local rivals Real Madrid.

But now, Klopp’s team are back with a vengeance.

So far this season they’re essentially at full fitness and it’s showing. They have won eight out of 11 games so far in all competitions and have lost none, scoring 33 goals and conceding just nine.

Virgil van Dijk of Liverpool during the Premier League match between Watford and Liverpool at Vicarage Road on October 16, 2021 in Watford, England.

Mo Salah is in the form of his life, scoring seven goals and registering four assists in his eight appearances so far while Sadio Mane, Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are also chipping in with their fair share.

Defensively Virgil Van Dijk has returned from his ACL injury in great form, while Joel Matip has also returned from injury and continued his excellent partnership with the Dutchman.

Now paired up in a Champions League group together this season, Liverpool have the chance to avenge those defeats. They’ve won two out of two so far and with Atletico being held to a draw against FC Porto, a win means they would be five points clear at the top of the supposed group of death after just three games.

They’re on course for yet another brilliant campaign and what better way than to beat the reigning, defending La Liga champions to get their revenge and continue their brilliant European run.

Diogo Jota a Liverpool injury doubt after missing Portugal internationals

Liverpool are facing a period of time without Diogo Jota being available to them after he missed both of Portugal’s internationals during the break.

The winger started for Liverpool in their final game before the international break against Manchester City before being substituted in the second half.

He was selected by Portugal boss Fernando Santos for their games against Qatar and Luxembourg, but has been unable to train all week due to a muscle injury.

Jota was left out of the Portugal lineup that faced Qatar in a friendly as Santos rested most of his regular starters, but there was hope that the winger would be available for the World Cup qualifier against Luxembourg on Tuesday.

However the Portuguese Football Federation released a statement on Tuesday afternoon revealing that Jota had been sent home from international duty early after being unable to train once again, meaning he was unavailable for the game. A statement said;

“Diogo Jota was dismissed by the national team manager Fernando Santos, after being considered unavailable by the FPF Health and Performance Unit to face Luxembourg, in a meeting to be held this Tuesday.

Diogo Jota of Liverpool goes off during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield on October 03, 2021 in Liverpool,...

“The Liverpool player, who has already left the stage of the national team, has done conditioning work since the beginning of the international break, having also missed the match against Qatar.”

Jota is a doubt for Liverpool’s weekend game against Watford at Vicarage Road, where they could also be without goalkeeper Alisson and midfielder Fabinho who are on international duty with Brazil.

They aren’t expected to return from South America until late on Friday night and with the game against Watford on Saturday in the lunch-time slot, their participation is unlikely.

Liverpool then face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League in midweek before a trip to Old Trafford to face Manchester United in the Premier League the following weekend.