Liverpool travel to Bordeaux for their opening Europa League group match looking to bounce back from successive Premier League defeats.
Following a 3-0 loss at home to West Ham and a 3-1 defeat at Manchester United, the pressure is quickly building on Brendan Rodgers.
The Northern Irishman’s position has been called into question, and although a win here will not help his cause in the Premier League, it will hush the critics for a few days, at least.
Owners, Fenway Sports Group, deliberated whether to sack the former Swansea City boss in the summer, but instead decided to back their manager by making big money signings – including the purchase of Christian Benteke for £32.5m.
Benteke, however, has been left on Merseyside, along with James Milner, Nathaniel Clyne, Martin Skrtel, Dejan Lovren and Lucas Leiva, with Rodgers deciding to field a weakened side.
The Reds will again be without skipper Jordan Henderson after the midfielder flew to New Jersey to see a specialist about his ongoing heel problem.
Henderson, who replaced Steven Gerrard as the Reds captain in the summer, was substituted in Liverpool’s 1-0 win over Bournemouth in August and he has failed to make an appearance since.
However, the visitors will be able to call upon Philippe Coutinho, who missed Saturday’s defeat at Old Trafford through suspension. The Brazilian was sent off in the home defeat to West Ham United, but he will be welcomed back into the side.
New signing Adam Bogdan, who joined from Championship side Bolton Wanderers this summer, could make his Liverpool debut between the sticks, while Alberto Moreno, Mamadou Sakho and Divock Origi will all make their first starts of the season.
Rodgers should not underestimate Bordeaux though. Willy Sagnol, the former France international full-back, has done well since taking over in 2014, and now he is pushing his side to qualify for the latter stages of the Europa League.
Diego Rolan, the Uruguayan striker, will be the dangerman for the home side and will cause the Liverpool defence problems.
League Position: Bordeaux – 12th, 6 pts; Liverpool – 9th, 7 pts
Last Meeting: Bordeaux 0-1 Liverpool – October 18, 2006
Form: Bordeaux – DWDLWD; Liverpool – WWDLL
Key Men: Bordeaux – Diego Rolan; Liverpool – Divock Origi
Shoot Says: Bordeaux 1-1 Liverpool