Liverpool vs Sevilla preview, betting tips and prediction: Reds to suffer defeat on European return

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Draw HT/Sevilla FT @ 9/1 with Betfair

Score draw @ 7/2 with Betfair

Liverpool to win and over 2.5 goals @ 7/5 with Betfair

Anfield will be rocking when Liverpool take to the field in the Champions League for the first time in three seasons. Jurgen Klopp has delivered on his first objective and brought European football back to Merseyside, and although they avoided the traditional heaveyweights in the group stage, they may not have it all their own way when Sevilla arrive on Matchday 1.

Since winning the Europa League three times in a row, the last of which came against Klopp’s Reds in 2016, Sevilla have been through a lot of transition. Unai Emery departed for PSG and was replaced by Jorge Sampaoli, who in turn joined Argentina as coach this summer. Eduardo Berizzo is now in charge and while he will add his own ideas, their intensity, hard-working mentality and ability to be clinical in front of goal will be evident and Liverpool must not underestimate them.

Traditionally, in LaLiga at least, Sevilla have struggled on the road, failing to win away from home for a year in 2015. But in Europe they are much stronger, as their success proves, and they can have a lot of joy on the counter attack. Luis Muriel, a summer signing from Sampdoria, will be a threat, while the likes of Joaquin Correa and Jesus Navas could stretch the play out wide. Berizzo would be sensible to look to exploit Liverpool’s weakness at right-back, with Nathaniel Clyne out for a while. Trent Alexander-Arnold will likely step in, and will need to step up. If Sevilla can keep their shape and take the early sting out of Liverpool’s play, they will grow into the game and could easily settle for a point (at 7/2) or grab the win – 9/1 is severely underestimating their quality.

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Goals are likely with Liverpool at home and they will feel happier with an open game. If Philippe Coutinho returns, they will have the tools to unlock Sevilla’s defence, and much like their visitors, the keys could be held out wide with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane flanking Roberto Firmino, who will utilise the space created by the wingers stretching the play. This one really could go either way.

Key battle: Gini Wijnaldum vs Steven N’Zonzi

Someone who perfectly represents the need to respect Sevilla is Steven N’Zonzi. The former Stoke midfielder was always viewed as a talented but inconsistent player in England but he has thrived into one of Europe’s best midfielders in recent years. Not only will he keep the ball well and hold his position, but he will be the driving force from deep using his impressive physique to impose himself.
Wijnaldum will do the same for Liverpool in a different sense, offering balance to their midfield. If either of these two stamps their authority on the game, it will have a huge impact on the outcome.

Liverpool are rightly favourites for this game, but if they do not turn up Sevilla could pounce. From the hosts point of view, a goal in the first 20 minutes could be vital.

 

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