Under pressure Brendan Rodgers takes his out-of-sorts Reds to Bulgaria for a crucial Champions League fixture on Wednesday night…
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Liverpool
Vasil Levski National Stadium
Live on Sky Sports
Liverpool’s terrible season is now unquestionably teetering on the brink of a full-blown crisis.
An unthinkable fifth straight loss against Ludogorets Razgrad tomorrow will, barring a mathematical miracle, see Brendan Rodgers‘ side eliminated from the Champions League.
Their painful five-year wait for a return to Europe’s elite will therefore be over at the very first hurdle and, with the team languishing in the bottom half of the Premier League, the prospects of an immediate return look almost non existent at present.
Worryingly, such is the predicament they find themselves in after two defeats to Real Madrid and one against FC Basel, the Merseysiders could come away from Bulgaria with a usually-creditable draw and still be faced with elimination, or worse; the Europa League.
If Basel pull off a shock home win over an already-qualified Madrid then anything less than victory in Sofia will not suffice for Rodgers’ men.
Simply put, with Liverpool currently on a meagre tally of three points after four games (three behind Basel), failure to at least match the Swiss side’s result on the night will see them eliminated.
Should both lose then Razgrad themselves are firmly back in the Group B equation and a victory greater than the 2-1 defeat suffered at Anfield on Matchday One, will cause calculators to go into meltdown.
Zenit St Petersburg somehow managed to progress from the group stage with only six points last season – the lowest ever total of any team not to be eliminated – but seven is usually the bare minimum and even then it tends not to be enough.
To be absolutely certain of progressing, regardless of results elsewhere, Liverpool will need to defeat Ludogorets and then triumph by more than one goal against Basel in their final game on December 9.
Normally such a task would seem doable but the way the team is playing right now it appears highly unlikely, especially as Liverpool haven’t even managed a goal in their past three matches in the competition.
Rodgers is hopeful of having vice-captain Jordan Henderson to call upon again after the midfielder missed Sunday’s miserable 3-1 defeat to Crystal Palace through illness.
Defenders Mamadou Sakho and Jon Flanagan, plus attackers Daniel Sturridge, Mario Balotelli and Suso, remain unavailable however.
By contrast, Ludogorets, who impressed in the first meeting with their technique and endeavour, only have the one known injury concern; striker Roman Bezjak.
The hosts won their last home Champions League game 1-0 against Basel to become the first Bulgarian club to obtain points in the modern equivalent of the European Cup.
Previously Georgi Dermendzhiev’s team had also run Real close in a 1-2 defeat and overall they possess an impressive record of nine wins from 13 matches on their own turf this season, including victories in each of the last four.
Vital Liverpool predicts a 1-1 draw
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