Premier League side Liverpool return to Anfield this evening with only the prospect of playing at home as their pre-match advantage as they bid to fend off FC Augsburg to reach the last-16 of the UEFA Europa League.
The Reds, who face title contenders Manchester City in the 2016 League Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday, drew 0-0 with the Bundesliga outfit last Thursday during the opening tie inside the WWK Arena.
The Reds qualified for the knockout stages by topping Group B ahead of FC Sion with two wins and four draws from their six games.
Jurgen Klopp’s side are unbeaten in five European home matches; winning twice, since their 3-0 defeat to La Liga giants Real Madrid during the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League group stages.
The German boss has already faced tonight’s opponents ten times in his managerial career with FC Mainz and Borussia Dortmund, but he has only won twice. He has lost five times to Augsburg and drew the remaining three encounters.
Meanwhile Anfield’s visitors this evening have won their last two European away fixtures – defeating AZ Alkmaar (1-0) and Partizan (3-1) during their Group F fixtures late last year.
Founded back in 1907; Augsburg finished fifth in the German top-flight last season to qualify for this campaign’s Europa League competition, where they finished runners-up to Spanish side Athletic Bilbao in the group stages.
However they have struggled in the Bundesliga this season, with the away side currently sitting 13th with just 24 points from 22 games.
Therefore the Merseysiders will be the heavy favourites to progress into the last-16 of the competition this evening, with boss Klopp optimistic his side can lift the trophy and therefore automatically qualify for next term’s Champions League campaign.
Liverpool will be without centre-half Dejan Lovren as the Croatian international is currently suffering from illness after recently returning to the first-team fold following a hamstring injury.
England midfielder Adam Lallana is ruled out with a calf injury, while Joe Allen and Martin Skrtel are also restricted to the treatment room with respective hamstring problems.
Despite Sunday’s League Cup lurking, manager Klopp is set to field his strongest starting eleven, which means the German could name the same squad that lined up at the WWK Arena last week.
This means star players Daniel Sturridge and Philippe Coutinho will be risked this evening.
Meanwhile for the visitors; manager Markus Weinzierl has been left with an injury crisis ahead of their trip to Anfield.
Top goalscorer Raul Bobadilla remains unavailable due to a thigh injury, while central midfielder Markus Feulner will miss the game with a cheekbone problem.
Augsburg already have the likes of Daniel Baier, Raphael Framberger, Hong Jeon-Ho, Piotr Trochowski and Jan Moravek on the sidelines.
League Position: Liverpool – 8th (Premier League – 38 pts); Augsburg – 13th (Bundesliga – 24 pts)
Previous Meeting: Augsburg 0-0 Liverpool – (February 18, 2016)
Form: Liverpool – DLDDWD; Augsburg – DDLLDW
Key Men: Liverpool – Roberto Firmino; Augsburg – Alexander Esswein
Shoot Says: Liverpool 2-0 Augsburg