Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp returns to Germany for the first time since taking over at Anfield back in October, as his side take on FC Augsburg in the last-32 of the UEFA Europa League.
The Reds go in to the game full of confidence, having beaten bottom of the Premier League table Aston Villa 6-0 at Villa Park on Sunday.
Liverpool are also unbeaten in Europe this term. The Merseysiders won two and drew four of their fixtures to top Group B ahead of FC Sion, while their opponents finished second in Group L, pipping Partizan Belgrade to qualify for the knockout stages behind Athletic Bilbao.
The hosts; however, are not having the best of seasons. Augsburg registered their best finish in the club’s history last season, as Markus Weinzierl led the club to a fifth-placed finish in the Bundesliga. But the German side have accumulated just 21 points from 21 games this campaign, to leave them sitting 14th in Germany’s top-flight.
So with the club currently in danger of falling into a relegation battle, the Europa League is not Augsburg’s priority.
Klopp will be without midfielder Adam Lallana for the first leg at the WWK Arena due to a calf problem. The former Southampton midfielder was also absent for the rout over Villa at the weekend and will remain on Merseyside to continue treatment.
Young midfielder Kevin Stewart will also miss the trip to Germany after picking up a potential ankle ligament injury in training. Stewart may have been in contention to start for the Reds, after the teenager made his Premier League debut last weekend.
Croatia international central defender Dejan Lovren will not be involved due to a family illness.
However, Klopp will be pleased to welcome Lucas Leiva back into the side. The Brazilian missed the Premier League win over Villa due to a hamstring injury picked up in the extra-time defeat to West Ham United in the FA Cup fourth round replay.
Jon Flanagan cannot be called upon as he was omitted from the club’s 25-man squad for the European competition.
Meanwhile, Augsburg will be without key midfielder Daniel Baier after he sustained an ankle injury. Jan Moravek and Jeong-Ho Hong are likely to miss out with a mild concussion and thigh injury respectively.
Former Sunderland striker Ji Dong-Won is doubtful due to a knee problem, but Weinzierl will be pleased to have frontman Raul Bobadilla available. The Paraguay international is the competition’s joint-top goalscorer – along with Athletic Bilbao’s Aritz Aduriz – with six goals.
Group Position: Augsburg – 2nd (Group L), 9 points; Liverpool – 1st (Group B), 10 points
Previous Meeting: This will be the first-ever meeting between Augsburg and Liverpool
Key Men: Augsburg – Raul Bobadilla; Liverpool – Daniel Sturridge
Form: Augsburg – WWDDLL; Liverpool – LDLDDW
Shoot Says: Augsburg 0-1 Liverpool