Ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League clash between Liverpool and Sevilla, we look at five key battles.
Who do you think will come out on top and what do you make of our key battles?
HENDERSON V N’ZONZI
The centre of the field will clearly be crucial in determining the shape of the game, and Liverpool must prevent Sevilla’s key player Steven N’Zonzi – a man who knows Anfield well following his time with Stoke – from exerting his usual powerful influence.
As well as being an assured passer and powerful runner with the ball, N’Zonzi is also crucial for his defensive work with his strong tackling ability and good anticipation allowing him to regularly disrupt the opposition’s passing rhythm.
As the home team, Liverpool will look to set the pace and control the tempo, and Henderson must find a way of escaping N’Zonzi’s attentions to keep his team ticking over.
Perhaps that will involve him dropping deeper than usual, effectively becoming a third central defender to find the necessary space to construct Liverpool’s possession play.
If Henderson is able to become the game’s main midfield protagonist, Liverpool’s chances of success will be significantly enhanced.
MANE V MERCADO
The majority of Liverpool’s attacking threat comes down the left wing, specifically in the shape of the lightening quick Sadio Mane, who is likely to be accompanied by the overlapping runs and dangerous deliveries of rising star left-back Andrew Robertson.
Mane, however, is the main man for the Reds with his ability to penetrate defences through fast and direct running, and perhaps Sevilla’s most important player in managing his menace is Argentine international Gabriel Mercado, a versatile player who can perform either at full-back or in the centre of defence.
Whichever role he fulfils at Anfield, Mercado’s guile and experience will be vital in containing Mane. And in fact, his comfort in both positions could be a significant benefit – whether Mane goes inside and straight towards goal, or attempts to find more space down the flank, Mercado will feel less concerned about getting dragged out of position than most defenders.
MATIP V BEN YEDDER
Although they have plenty of striking options, the biggest goal threat for Sevilla comes from former French under 21 international Wissam Ben Yedder, who netted in the league win over Eibar this weekend and scored in both legs of the play-off round against Buyuksehir Istanbul.
As he enters his second season with Sevilla, the former Toulouse striker is already looking more comfortable and confident than he did last year and his clever movement and nimble style could prove a particular headache for Reds defender Joel Matip.
The two players present a real contrast in styles, with Ben Yedder standing at five foot seven while Matip towers over him at six foot five, and the Liverpool defender’s lack of pace and occasional positional lapses make him vulnerable to the darting runs of tonight’s adversary, who will be difficult to catch up if he is allowed to slip away.