Liverpool vs Inter Milan | Tuesday 8th March 2022, 20:00 | BT Sport
Liverpool have one foot in the Champions League quarter-finals after late goals from Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino saw them run out 2-0 winners in the first leg at San Siro.
Since that 2-0 victory in Italy, the Reds have recorded three league wins, progressed in the FA Cup and added the League Cup to their trophy cabinet.
In contrast, Inter have been through a bit of a slump. They failed to score in three consecutive games after the Liverpool defeat but did pick up a much-needed 5-0 victory over Serie A basement club Salernitana on Friday night.
History is against Inter, who have lost four of their previous five away games against English sides in the Champions League. So, is there a way the Nerazzurri can pull off something special and book a place in the next round?
Simone Inzaghi must somehow mastermind a plan that sees Inter progress. And that won’t be easy. The Nerazzurri failed to score in two of their three away group games, so they’ll have their work cut out trying to break down this Reds defence.
However, Liverpool have been giving chances away. Chelsea carved them open a few times in the League Cup final, while West Ham had a couple of glorious openings that they failed to take. So, there could be some optimism in the Italian sides camp on the back of those showings.
But for Inter to get level on aggregate, they are going to have to take chances, especially if they want to turn it into an anxious night for the hosts at Anfield. Yet, they have to do it in a way that won’t leave them exposed, allowing Liverpool to pick them off.
Jurgen Klopp’s side possesses plenty of attacking threat and have a 100% record in this season’s competition, winning all seven of their games. And on top of that, no side has kept more home clean sheets in the Champions League than Liverpool (15 in 24) since the start of the 2017/18 season.
I’m surprised to see that Liverpool to win and under 5 goals is at even money using the Bet365 Bet Builder. That looks like a cracking price!
The Reds' strong defence speaks for itself in this competition, with that clean sheet record. Plus, they’ve only conceded four goals in their last eight Champions League games at Anfield.
I can see Inter knocking on the door, but the options Klopp has just looks too strong to say they won’t make light work of progressing with yet another win in front of their home faithful.
The Reds haven’t lost at home in 12 months. In those 28 games, they’ve won 21 with 18 of those seeing under five goals. And on top of that, they’ve kept 17 clean sheets, so it only emphasises the mountain Inter must climb to progress.
When you’ve got Mohamed Salah averaging a goal every 69 minutes in the competition this season, Sadio Mane, Luis Diaz and Roberto Firmino all to call on to make sure you don’t let the advantage slip, then I’m happy to take the Reds to get the job done with the minimum of fuss.
And my faith was boosted after reading Klopp’s press conference where he told reporters that his side isn’t one who defend results.
The other angle features Ivan Perisic who is likely to start in that left wing-back position once again. He looks like one worth having on side in the tackles markets. We all know the threat Trent Alexander-Arnold poses going forward with his quality to pick a pass and a cross, so the Croatian is going to have to keep him quiet.
The 33-year-old is 5/6 to make 2+ tackles with Ladbrokes, which I’m more than willing to take. Although you might look at his Serie A numbers where he’s only hit 2+ in eight of 25 appearances, he has hit this line in the games against bigger sides, including Juventus and Lazio.
But when you look at his record at Europe’s top table this season, he’s made two or more tackles in all five of his starts. Four of those starts came during the group stage where he hit 2, 2, 3 & 2, including a couple in 55 minutes at the Bernabeu. While he completed three in the first leg.
Left-sided players have been hitting this line frequently against Liverpool lately with not just Alexander-Arnold causing plenty of bother, but with Salah also on the prowl.
Just looking back through the recent records of left wing-backs and left-backs against the Reds sees some big numbers. Leeds’ Junior Firpo hit five, Norwich’s Brandon Williams completed six – that’s without TAA – while Erik Pieters (2), Luke Thomas (3), Ethan Pinnock (2) and Marcos Alonso (2) have all made 2+ tackles since the turn of the year in the Premier League.
So, the 5/6 available for him to get two once more does look enticing in what could be another busy night for the veteran Croatian international.
They’re the two angles for me at Anfield. But I do have to say that everyone’s favourite referee is in charge – Antonio Mateu Lahoz. I doubt that the smiling Spaniard will follow Szymon Marciniak’s example of getting through the game without showing a card!