Liverpool host Spartak Moscow in Uefa Champions League Group E on Wednesday night and the home side need only avoid defeat to secure a place in the knockout rounds.
Liverpool top the group with 9 points, 1 clear of Sevilla and Spartak are third with 6 points. Maribor are bottom of the quartet with 2 points and that is where they will finish.
Liverpool need a point to ensure they qualify for the last 16 whilst a win will ensure they top the group. If ambitions to finish top are to be realized then 3 points are likely to be needed as second placed Sevilla are a short price to beat group also-rans Maribor in their final game in the group.
Liverpool could have been home and hosed already had they not coughed up a 3-0 lead at Sevilla last time out. The 3-3 draw kept the qualification spots open and should Liverpool lose here, they could miss out completely. Earlier results at home include a 2-2 draw with Sevilla and a routine 3-0 win over Maribor. The earlier meeting with Spartak finished locked up at 1-1 and Liverpool are unbeaten with 2 wins and 3 draws.
Recent domestic form is good with Liverpool having taken 16 points from the last 18 available and a 5-1 win at Brighton last weekend saw them move into the top 4.
Spartak’s only route into the last 16 is to win here, a result which would see them finish above Liverpool on the head to head criteria. Their only win in the group so far came on Matchday 4 when they hammered Sevilla 5-1 in Moscow before they lost the return 2-1 in Spain. Spartak were twice held by Maribor with both matches finishing at 1-1 and those draws could well prove the difference between a last 16 spot or the consolation of Europa League football after Christmas.
Right now Spartak are fourth in the Russian top flight, 8 points shy of top spot but they have won each of their last 4 league outings.
Head to Head
Aside from the 1-1 on Matchday 2 the teams met way back in the 2002/03 season when Liverpool won both meetings, 5-0 at Anfield and 3-1 in Russia.
Spartak Moscow 11/1
Note, odds quoted are an approximate average and are correct at the time of last update but are subject to change
IT’s a big ask for Spartak but given their equation is straight forward, win or be eliminated” we should see a very watchable game. Liverpool have been scoring more goals away from home than they have at Anfield but I see the carrot of finishing top as another factor in favour of a high scoring game and I’ll go with over 3.5 goals.
Bet: Over 3.5 goals at 12/10
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*Note, every effort is made to ensure the accuracy of the stats but errors may occur from time to time.