Liverpool narrowly missed out on the Premier League title last season but are finding life difficult in the wake of the departure of Luis Suarez.
The Uruguayan striker moved to Barcelona following the disgraceful biting incident with last summer?s World Cup and Liverpool have spent over £100 million rebuilding the team. Despite the influx of new talent, the Reds are languishing in mid-table and face a showdown with Basel if they are to make any further progress in the Champions League.
Coach Brendan Rodgers insists that he was happy with his side?s performance in drawing 2-2 with Ludogorets in their penultimate group game. The night had started badly for the Merseyside team when the group minnows took a shock early lead following a blunder by keeper Simon Mignolet. Liverpool hit back through summer signing Rickie Lambert before Jordan Henderson put them ahead before half-time.
Not for the first time this season, Liverpool?s hard work was undone in the closing stages when Georgi Terziev headed home from close range to level the match. Basel were beaten 1-0 by Real Madrid in the other group game to provide Liverpool with the chance of qualification by beating the Swiss at Anfield in the final game.
Liverpool will have to learn from the reverse fixture where they suffered a 1-0 defeat after the Swiss capitalised on the Red?s weakness from dead-ball situations. Marco Streller got on the end of a corner in the 53rd minute to put Basel ahead and they were worthy winners. Since then Liverpool?s defense has shown some improvements; They’ve manage to keep two clean sheet in their last three Premier League outing which should build some sort of confidence ahead of tomorrow’s game.
Rodgers believes that Liverpool?s tremendous home support will carry them home in the deciding match but not if they perform as they did against Real Madrid. The Spanish giants silenced the Kop with a stunning first half performance to go in three goals ahead. Liverpool did not concede in the second half and were only beaten 1-0 in the reverse fixture. Rodgers fielded a weakened side for that game but they performed well enough to avoid any lasting damage.
There will be no holding back for the Basel game, easily the most important game of the season for Liverpool thus far. None of their star players have avoided criticism this season with Balotelli, Mignolet and Gerrard on the receiving end in recent weeks. Rodgers has acknowledged that his side need to start playing a lot better and time is running out if they are going to make anything of their season.