WILL Jurgen Klopp make a victorious return to Germany on Thursday night? We asked Mark O’Haire (@MarkOHaire) to share his betting thoughts.
Augsburg v Liverpool | Thursday 20.05 | BT Sport Europe
Not since December have Liverpool recorded back-to-back wins but following Sunday’s 6-0 annihilation of Aston Villa, confidence in Jurgen Klopp’s camp should be sky-high as they head to Germany.
Of course, as good as the Reds were, Villa were awful and the new era at Anfield under the former Dortmund head coach is still showing a few signs of growing pains.
The Merseysiders are far from stable defensively but at the weekend Klopp was able to field Daniel Sturridge, Philippe Coutinho and Roberto Firmino in the same XI for the first time and the devastating attacking performance they put on should excite all Liverpool supporters.
With no game to come this weekend, there’s no obvious reason not to include the trio from the off in Bavaria, with the Reds and Klopp well aware Europa League success is their best chance of playing Champions League football next season.
However, the visitors only triumphed twice in the group-stage (W2-D4-L0) despite being dealt a fairly soft hand. And the Premier League outfit should brace themselves for an impassioned entrance at the WWK Arena on Thursday night.
This is arguably Augsburg’s finest hour. Last season’s fifth-placed Bundesliga finish exceeded all expectations and it’s worth reminding ourselves that this is also FCA’s first ever European campaign.
Like Liverpool, Markus Weinzierl's men have endured a rollercoaster ride in 2015/16. Having started their season with just W1-D3-L8 from their first 12 league fixtures, Augsburg found themselves bottom of the Bundesliga in November.
But FCA have fought back valiantly (W4-D3-L2) despite failing to record three points since their return from the winter break (W0-D2-L2).
In the Europa League, the Bavarians were beaten in two of their three outings at the WWK Arena – both Partizan Belgrade and Athletic Bilbao notched three times when visiting – but a herculean effort to pocket a 3-1 success in Belgrade in their final pool fixture confirmed qualification.
Partizan and Athletic were just two of 10 guests to have left Augsburg’s home with a victory this season and Weinzierl’s troops do tend to come unstuck when hosting higher-standard sides.
Since the talented young coach took charge of the club, the Fuggerstadter have W8-D9-L13 home Bundesliga games against top-half teams.
But at 11/10 Liverpool make little appeal to me so a goals angle might be a better route for profit – five of Augsburg’s six group-stage games featured both Over 2.5 Goals and Both Teams To Score.
With the Reds backline showing few signs of solidity, I’ll play it safe by backing BTTS again at even-money with 888 Sport.
Augsburg v Liverpool – Both Teams To Score (1/1 888 Sport)
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