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Liverpool’s pursuit of a seventh European Cup resumes on Wednesday on CBS and Paramount+ as Jurgen Klopp’s side travel to Italy to face Serie A champions Inter Milan. It promises to be a tough trip for the Reds, even if they go into the tie as favorites and their trip to the San Siro to face AC Milan in the group stages also ended in impressive fashion.
That was one of six wins the Reds picked up in a group stage that saw them end with a 100 percent record. Klopp insists that their strong form before Christmas counts for little now that the competition is resuming, but it did at least mark them out as one of the best teams in the tournament, one who ought to emerge victorious over two legs, even against an extremely competitive Inter side.
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Date: Wednesday, Feb. 16 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
Location: San Siro — Milan, Italy
TV: CBS | Live stream: Paramount+
Odds: Inter +240; Draw +250; Liverpool +110 (via Caesars Sportsbook)
Liverpool’s return to the Champions League this year could hardly be more different to 12 months ago. On that occasion they took on (and beat) RB Leipzig as something akin to the walking wounded, Klopp fielding a central defensive pairing of loanee Ozan Kabak and repurposed midfielder Jordan Henderson. Though they reached the quarter finals the absence of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Joel Matip meant they never stood a real chance.
Now Liverpool have squad depth comparable with almost any of the field, aided by the fact that a knock to the knee on Sunday did not do lasting damage to Henderson. As such the Reds travel to Milan with a fully fit squad to choose from and a host of game changers that Klopp can call on from the substitutes bench.
“It’s a good situation to have, no doubt about that,” said Klopp. “I don’t know how often we have to say that it’s much more important how we play than who is playing but it helps that we have different options and solutions for different problems and situations. That’s what we try to use as well.
“We need fresh legs for this game but much more important is that we have the chance to change five times in the game, a massive boost for football in general in a really tough period of the year. It’s good to have the boys around but the boys have to deal with it [the competition] as well.”
In a press conference where he questioned UEFA’s decision to abandon the away goals rule, Klopp made clear that his full strength squad would be travelling to Milan to win. They will certainly have options to change the tide off the bench, possibly Luis Diaz, who has made an impressive and immediate impact since joining from Porto in January. Whilst the Colombian winger could make his European debut for his new club, Mohamed Salah will bring up a half century of Champions League matches for the Reds if he features.
In that time the Egyptian has scored 32 goals for his club, only Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo, then of Real Madrid, have a better return in their first 50 Champions League games for their team.
This is unlikely to be an easy game for Liverpool but that quality off the bench could pay dividends as the Reds return home in control of the tie. Pick: Inter 1 Liverpool 2
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