Reds on top in Klopp reunion
Liverpool v Dortmund 2nd leg preview
Liverpool were in excellent form in a 1-1 draw at Borussia Dortmund in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final last week, putting Jürgen Klopp’s side in control against his former club.
Divock Origi’s opener gives the Reds a vital away goal to take into Thursday’s reverse fixture at Anfield, but Mats Hummels’ leveller means the game is evenly-poised with a last-four place up for grabs to the winner.
Neither side has much to play for elsewhere – Dortmund are highly unlikely to catch Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich and Liverpool are hugely off the pace in the Premier League – so the Europa League may well be the top priority for both Klopp and his successor as BVB coach, Thomas Tuchel.
The fact that the winners of the Europa League will gain entry to next season’s Champions League will be particularly motivating for Liverpool, as they are almost certain to miss out on qualification through their domestic league placing.
It is even possible that, due to Liverpool qualifying for the Champions League through winning the Europa League, Manchester United lose their own qualification spot for the tournament, which would be a massive source of mirth for Liverpool fans.
A tight game is likely to be in store on Thursday night – so what should Europa League fantasy football players be looking out for this week?
What to expect from Liverpool v Dortmund
Liverpool are the only team left in the Europa League to have been unbeaten since the start of the competition this season, while their last six European games have all featured under 2.5 goals.
Perhaps defences will be on top as they were in the first leg, which could bring a penalty shoot-out into play if the second leg also ends in a 1-1 draw.
If this is the case, Liverpool can call on the experience of last year’s Europa League round of 32, when they exited 5-4 on penalties to Beşiktaş, although this is the only time in four occasions they have lost a European shoot-out.
Of course, Liverpool memorably won the 2004/05 Champions League final on penalties after battling back from 3-0 down against AC Milan.
Dortmund have also had four European penalty shoot-outs, winning two and losing two, including their last two, against Club Brugge and Udinese.
Team news and players to watch
With Jordan Henderson out, Joe Allen is expected to take his place in the Liverpool midfield. Danny Ings, Christian Benteke and Joe Gomez are still injured, but Roberto Firmino made his comeback in the weekend win over Stoke City and could be in line for a start. Up front, Divock Origi could keep his place after scoring in successive games, with Klopp having recently criticised striker Daniel Sturridge in the press.
Mamadou Sakho was excellent in the first leg as he continues to develop under the leadership of Klopp, but even with Origi playing well there is no doubt that Liverpool lack a potent goalscorer. No player has scored more than the two goals James Milner and Adam Lallana have managed in this year’s Europa League so far.
For Dortmund, Neven Subotić is the major injury absentee, but Tuchel has been boosted by the timely return of İlkay Gündoğan, who came off the bench in Dortmund’s draw at the weekend. Hummels, if selected, is in line to make his 50th career appearance in European competition.
In contrast to the issues Liverpool have had in front of goal this season, Dortmund have one of the hottest strikers in world football in the form of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has hit 37 goals for club and country this season. Aubameyang was rested for this game at the weekend.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been one of the Europa League’s star players this season, earning a highly impressive WhoScored rating of 7.79 for his performances in the competition.
The Armenia international, who is valued at $7,000 on DraftKings, has provided five assists in nine Europa League appearances, including setting up Hummels in the first leg against Liverpool last week. Mkhitaryan has only scored one goal in the tournament this season, but he has been unlucky with his finishing, hitting the woodwork five times. Dortmund have struck the woodwork 10 times in Europe this season.
Marco Reus – who has been linked in the press with a possible summer move to Liverpool – is another major threat, having scored four goals in this season’s Europa League.
As well as Klopp’s reunion with his old Dortmund squad, Liverpool’s Emre Can and Dortmund’s Gonzalo Castro will face each other again on Tuesday night. The pair were team-mates at Bayer Leverkusen in the 2013/14 season.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan is $7,000 on DraftKings UK in their Europa League Contests (vs Liverpool, $50K Budget)