What does this cryptic headline mean? It urges Liverpool to do the same thing as the Turkish Süper Lig team Eskisehirspor has done this season, namely beat Besiktas 1-0 at home and draw 1-1 away. If the Reds can copy that record then we are through in the Europa League.
A week ago Liverpool managed to down Besiktas 1-0 in the Europa League at Anfield. Tonight the teams meet in Istanbul in the return leg in the round of 32 and a 1-1 draw would send the visitors to the next stage. If we claim these result then we have copied Eskisehirspor, currently in 13th place in the Turkish league. They caught Besiktas in a bad mood and beat them 1-0 in the league three days after Liverpool had their 1-0 win. In September Eskisehirspor drew away to Besiktas, 1-1, and a similar result would suit the Reds perfectly tonight.
The match is played at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium, the same venue where Liverpool triumphed in the Champions League final in 2005. So perhaps a 3-3 result tonight would be appropiate. Besiktas normally plays at another stadium, nowadays called Vodafone Arena, but it is under reconstruction so their games during the 2014/15 season are played at Liverpool´s happy hunting ground.
After the hard-fought win versus Besiktas at Anfield Liverpool went to Southampton and orchestrated another fine victory. We did it by playing what could be described as a perfect European away game, soaking up pressure and hitting the opposition on the break. It could be used as a dress rehearsal to the real European match tonight. A performance like the one against Southampton will do nicely. A win is of course what we want but a draw and even a defeat by the odd goal, if we score, is also enough for progress.
At Anfield Besiktas, currently second in the Turkish league, proved to be a really good team. They were defensively compact and very comfortable in possession. It will be a tough proposition for Liverpool as Besiktas surely will attack more now than in the first leg. Once again our defence and goalkeeper must be at their best, as they have in recent weeks.
I will be interesting to see if the home side goes all out attack from the start or plays a bit cautious to prevent Liverpool from hitting them on the break, score an early goal and force them to chase the game. Because if Liverpool score then Besiktas need to score three to win overall. The most likely scenario is a tight game. Liverpool need to take care of goal scoring opportunities, there won´t be many.
The Reds can take heart from the fact that Besiktas appears to be a bit out of form, losing two matches on the trot without scoring. Another boosting factor is Besiktas home record. They have indeed just lost two home league matches but it was versus Galatasaray and Fenerbahce, 0-2 against both, the other two sides at the top of the table. Apparently good teams can come to Besiktas and win. And I like to think that Liverpool is included in that bracket.
I would send out this eleven Red players (in a 3-4-3 formation):
GK: Simon Mignolet. RB: Kolo Toure. CB: Martin Skrtel. LB: Dejan Lovren. RWB: Jordon Ibe. DM: Emre Can. CM: Joe Allen. LWB: Alberto Moreno. RF: Adam Lallana. CF: Daniel Sturridge. LF: Raheem Sterling.
The Liverpool injury list is growing at an alarming pace and recent additions is Jordan Henderson and Glen Johnson joining Steven Gerrard, Mamadou Sakho, José Enrique, Jon Flanagan and Lucas Leiva in this sorry group. Another two players are missing, Philippe Coutinho, rested, and Lazar Markovic, suspended, and that means Liverpool is forced to field a makeshift team tonight. It would be wise to give Mario Balotelli and perhaps young Jordan Williams or Fabio Borini a healthy dose of game time in the second half to keep newly-injured Sturridge and Sterling from being over-worked.
Just as the schedule is at it´s most compact look the squad gets stretched to it´s limits. It will be interesting to see if it stands the test when:
We Go Again.