Mohamed Salah has matched expectations at Liverpool

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In red-hot form: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah is in dangerous form right now and Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can only imagine how self-assured he might become should he prosper at Sevilla on Tuesday.

The Egyptian winger scored twice in Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Southampton, bringing his tally to 14 goals in all competitions since he joined the Reds from Roma in the summer.

Salah’s next outing will come against Spanish side Sevilla at the Sanchez Pizjuan in a Champions League match from which Liverpool are seeking a victory that could put them into the next round.

Klopp was not willing to dwell on Salah’s display at Anfield, instead expressing his hope the player can find a further confidence boost in Spain.

When asked if Salah has exceeded his expectations, the German manager told liverpoolfc.com: “He has reached them at least, that’s clear.

“I like his goals and all that stuff but we don’t have to talk about that, it’s in the past. I’m more interested in his performance tomorrow night. He could get confidence off this.”

Liverpool lead Sevilla by a point in Group E, while Spartak Moscow are another two points behind in third, and Klopp wants things to be simpler by the time the sixth matchday rolls around.

“When you come to the end of the group stage the more decisive the games are,” he said.

“It’s all good so far. It’s a really interesting journey in the Champions League. “But it depends on the result tomorrow whether it will be another interesting two weeks.

“(Sevilla) are a good football playing team and that’s the Champions League and how it should be.

“We’re looking forward to it.”

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Liverpool's curious defence and other talking points as they travel to Sevilla

Carl Markham 20/11/2017
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Liverpool travel to Seville knowing a win will guarantee them a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League with a match to spare.

Here’s a look at some of the issues surrounding the game.

IS THERE A STURRIDGE SOLUTION?

Reports have emerged again that striker Daniel Sturridge is unhappy with the amount of pitch time he is getting and is looking for a January move to bolster his World Cup chances with England.

The 28-year-old is probably the fittest he has been since the season he and Luis Suarez tore defences to shreds in 2013/14 but he is still second choice behind Roberto Firmino, who is not even a recognised centre-forward.

He represents an effective option off the bench, which appears manager Jurgen Klopp’s preferred tactic, but could see some increased action in the busy period leading up to the new year.

How that goes may determine Sturridge’s thinking when the transfer window opens but Klopp will not countenance a departure with the possibility of an FA Cup run and involvement in the Champions League knockout stages in 2018.

In the short-term Sturridge is unlikely to get his wish for more game time in Seville – even with the weekend visit of Chelsea looming on the horizon.

Daniel Sturridge

Not first choice: Daniel Sturridge

WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO LIVERPOOL’S DODGY DEFENCE?

Saturday’s clean sheet against Southampton was the Reds’ fifth in six Premier League matches at home, where they have conceded just one goal.

Since leaking four against Tottenham at Wembley Klopp’s side have let in just one in four matches, including back-to-back European shut-outs against minnows Maribor.

Injury to Joel Matip means Dejan Lovren and Ragnar Klavan are set to start as the centre-back pairing and they are likely to be tested more by their Spanish opponents than anyone since Spurs at Wembley.

Defence not an issue?

Defence: Ready to be tested

HOW MUCH ROTATION CAN KLOPP AFFORD?

Top-four rivals Chelsea are the visitors to Anfield for a late Saturday kick-off but the Reds boss will be focused on his first objective which is to secure Champions League qualification with a win against Sevilla.

For that reason he is likely to keep changes to a minimum. Loris Karius will start in goal and Joe Gomez is expected to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold at right-back, in keeping with Klopp’s policy of rotating his youngsters and goalkeeper for European games, but otherwise there will only be minor tweaks.

James Milner and Emre Can, both substitutes at the weekend, could both come into midfield, although it is more likely they will be vying for just one spot, while the front three of Mohamed Salah, Firmino and Sadio Mane picks itself.

Midfielder Adam Lallana, who has not started a competitive match this season because of a thigh injury, could be on the bench to be given a run out if circumstances allow to ease him back into things ahead of Chelsea.

Could feature for Liverpool: Emre Can

Could feature for Liverpool: Emre Can

PAIN IN SPAIN?

Liverpool have lost 1-0 on each of their last three visits to Spain, most recently against Villarreal in their 2016 Europa League semi-final first leg.

The 3-0 win in the return game is the Reds’ solitary victory in their last six matches against LaLiga clubs.

Overall their record on Spanish soil is better than in home legs, however, winning seven and drawing four of 16 fixtures.

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Cristiano Ronaldo is let down by his Real Madrid team-mates as Harry Kane wins duel in Spurs win

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For the second time in a fortnight, Harry Kane and Cristiano Ronaldo faced off on one of the world’s grandest stages. From the Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid, the action moved to Wembley as both Tottenham and Real Madrid looked to wrap up qualification to the Champions League knockout stages.

Like two weeks ago, yet again it was Ronaldo who came out on top in the goals column and Kane’s team which came away with the better result. After impressing in a 1-1 draw in Madrid, Tottenham played the European and Spanish champions off the park on Wednesday in a stunning 3-1 win.

Here’s a look at the two teams’ star players and their performances on the night.

BASIC STATS

Kane

Goals – 0

Assists – 1

Shots – 4

Shots on target – 3

Touches – 32

Passes – 15

Key passes – 2

Dribbles – 3

Other than not scoring, Kane barely put a foot wrong.

Other than not scoring, Kane barely put a foot wrong.

Ronaldo

Goals – 1

Assists – 0

Shots – 7

Shots on target – 5

Touches – 47

Passes – 35

Key passes – 0

Dribbles – 2

It was a frustrating night for Ronaldo even though he got on the scoresheet.

It was a frustrating night for Ronaldo even though he got on the scoresheet.

EFFECTIVENESS

Kane

Alli grabbed the headlines, deservedly, and Kane didn’t impact the game in the way he’s most known for, which is by getting on the scoresheet. Yet this was another classy, composed performance from a player who’s smashing down the door to the exclusive club of “world class” players.

Kane’s movement created space for his teammates that was crucial for Spurs’ attacks, and his work rate was yet again an example of what makes him a manager’s dream with his assist for Spurs’ third goal pretty much sealing his team’s qualification in the group stages.

Ronaldo

The Madrid star hasn’t had the best of starts this season, but this was one of those games where his teammates let him down. His movement leading the line was actually excellent, but his teammates repeatedly failed to pick him out, either by failing to find him or not attempting to in the first place.

He did eventually get a goal, and probably could have had more than one, but ultimately he and his teammates were outclassed by Kane and Spurs.

KEY MOMENTS

Kane

12th min SHOT: He didn’t score, but this attempt from Kane showed the confidence the young Englishman is feeling at the moment. Kane beat Sergio Ramos to the ball and then, from outside the box, attempted an audacious chip. It settled harmlessly into Kiko Casilla’s arms, but not many players have the confidence or ability to try something like that.

26th min: This is the sort of work that endears Kane to fans, observers, and coaches. Alli’s pass to the striker was overhit and should have been easily dealt with by Madrid defender Nacho. Instead, Kane put Nacho under pressure and forced a throw-in. It was from that throw that Spurs eventually scored their opener.

65th min ASSIST: A classic counter-attack, and it was Kane’s awareness and vision that put the game out of Madrid’s reach. Alli’s ball released the striker, and then he held the ball for just enough time to see how the play had developed around him. Christian Eriksen was bursting forward, and Kane picked him out with just the right pass to allow the Dane to put Spurs up 3-0.

Kane's assist for Eriksen put Spurs out of Madrid's reach.

Kane’s assist for Eriksen put Spurs out of Madrid’s reach.

Ronaldo

32nd min SHOT: Ronaldo showcased his ability to create something out of nothing. From the left wing, some trademark footwork helped the forward buy just a little bit of space for himself, which he used send a fizzing shot towards goal which needed the save from Hugo Lloris.

62nd min CHANCE: It was a moment that typified Ronaldo’s night, and Madrid’s. An almighty goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall to Sergio Ramos at point-blank range. He hit a strike that almost certainly would have been a goal, had it not been for Ronaldo’s excellent, if inadvertent, defensive work in blocking his teammate’s shot.

80th min GOAL: For a moment, it seemed like Madrid were on the comeback trail, and it was thanks to Ronaldo finally finding the back of the net. This goal was largely due to the work of Borja Mayoral and Marcelo in the build-up, and Ronaldo was on hand in the box to sweep home.

Ronaldo's goal means he's now the leading scorer in this year's Champions League.

Ronaldo’s goal means he’s now the leading scorer in this year’s Champions League.

VERDICT

Kane

Couldn’t round off two excellent games against one of the world’s biggest clubs with a goal, but was otherwise a thorn in Real Madrid’s side throughout.

It was one of the rare nights where he wasn’t Spurs’ best player, but his performance leading the line was crucial to Tottenham’s win.

RATING: 8/10

Ronaldo

Ronaldo will have worse games in which he scores more goals.

His movement was exactly what you’d expect from one of the world’s leading strikers, and he tested Lloris on more than one occasion before finally beating him for what ended up being a mere consolation.

RATING: 7/10

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