By DailyNewUG Sports Correspondent
DAILYNEWS UG Liverpool host Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield on Tuesday night in the first round of group stage games of this season’s UEFA Champion’s League, with Jurgen Klopp’s side desperate to atone for last season’s unfortunate defeat in the final against Real Madrid.
Thomas Tuchel’s side come into the fixture in excellent form and will be optimistic ahead of Tuesday’s clash, despite the manager stating that the game will prove to be a ‘big test’ for his players.
While two of the best attacking sides in Europe take centre stage, there is a subplot to proceedings. Tuchel and Klopp have both managed at Mainz 05 and Borussia Dortmund, and share similar footballing philosophies. When the two managers last met, Klopp’s Liverpool knocked Tuchel’s Dortmund out of the Europa League in 2016. Tuchel may see Tuesday’s game as an opportunity to get revenge over his rival.
Here are four key battles that will determine which manager comes out on top:
1. Mohamed Salah vs. Juan Bernat
Former Bayern Munich star Juan Bernat will face a tough task marking last season’s PFA and FWA Player of the Year Mohamed Salah.
The Egyptian is likely to be delighted at the prospect of lining up against the Spaniard whose attacking instincts could leave him with plenty of space to attack.
The left-back must find the balance between supporting the attack and holding his position against Liverpool’s fluid front three.
2. Adrien Rabiot vs. James Milner
The battle for midfield control will be an intriguing one with both sides eager to dominate possession. Adrien Rabiot plays a pivotal role for PSG in keeping play ticking over. The classy Frenchman excels at winning the ball for his side and turning defence into attack, an aspect of his game which Liverpool should be wary.
James Milner has started the season in excellent form and has looked like a new signing playing on the right of a midfield three for Liverpool. The Englishman’s combative all-action approach could prove to be a disruptive influence in the PSG engine room.
3. Andrew Robertson vs. Kylian Mbappe
Andrew Robertson has made himself one of the first names on the team sheet for Jurgen Klopp. The Scot’s ability to get up and down the left providing an attacking outlet for his side is crucial in allowing Sadio Mané to move infield closer to Roberto Firmino.
Robertson will have to be wary of the pace of World Cup winner Mbappe, who can seemingly do no wrong at the moment. The teenager will be fresh for Tuesday night’s clash after being rested in PSG’s recent win over St Etienne.
Robertson must make sure he negates the Frenchman’s impact while still influencing play in the attacking third for Liverpool; a tall order.
4. Edinson Cavani vs. Virgil van Dijk
Edinson Cavani’s goalscoring record makes him one of Europe’s most feared strikers. While no slouch himself, the Uruguayan has benefited from having genuine pace either side of him in the forms of Mbappe and Neymar, scoring 40 goals last season.
While Cavani may be overlooked for his flashier fellow forwards, his ability to hold the ball up and bring others into play often instigates PSG’s attacks.
Van Dijk and his defensive partner Joe Gomez must ensure they remain focused on Tuesday against one of the most efficient marksmen in the Champions League.