How Liverpool Could Line Up Against Basel in the Champions League

Liverpool head to Basel to take on the Swiss champions on Wednesday night in their second game of the Champions League group stage.

European Football - UEFA Champions League - Group B - Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad


The home side currently sit at the bottom of the group after being on the receiving end of 5-1 hammering from the tournament favourites, Real Madrid, in the first round of fixtures and Paulo Sousa’s side will be looking to bounce back with immediate effect against the Reds to drag themselves back into the reckoning.

Wednesday’s game represents a different, but big opportunity for Brendan Rodgers’ side however in contrast to their opponents.

After grinding out a win the hard way against a courageous Ludogorets team at Anfield, a win for the Reds could really see Liverpool grab a strong foot hold within the group ahead of tough matches back-to-back against Madrid’s ‘World XI’ superstars.

European Football - UEFA Champions League - Group B - Liverpool FC v PFC Ludogorets Razgrad

Rodgers’ team will have to produce another improved performance to back up the promising display in the Merseyside derby last Saturday if they want to make that happen and the Liverpool boss could consider a small number of changes ahead of the match in order to give his players the best chance to do so.

The Team

Injuries have made squad rotation difficult for Rodgers over recent weeks meaning the problem he has encountered most is over the shape of his team rather than personnel.

Glen Johnson, Jon Flanagan, Joe Allen and Emre Can are all still missing and with the central midfield position especially currently light of options the Reds’ boss could choose to stick with the 4-2-3-1 formation that has been seen more times than hoped this season.

The back four is likely to remain the same regardless of formation due to injuries meaning Javier Manquillo is set to remain at right back. Mamadou Sakho’s bold decision to walk out of Anfield prior to the derby game will see his involvement restricted once more – though that is due to an injury – meaning Dejan Lovren and Martin Skrtel are likely to partner up at centre back, with Alberto Moreno alongside them at left back.

If Rodgers does stick with the 4-2-3-1 set-up, the Liverpool manager should make a change to the starting team replacing Lazar Markovic with Philippe Coutinho in the ‘3’ behind the striker – putting the Brazilian as the central figure and Adam Lallana to one side.

However, the Liverpool manager has a potential thinking point over whether to stick to a two man centre, or switch to a three, with Steven Gerrard and Jordan Henderson set to play their second game in four days and West Brom at home looming up at the weekend.

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - Saturday, September 13, 2014: Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho Correia in action against Aston Villa during the Premier League match at Anfield. (Pic by David Rawcliffe/Propaganda)

Opting for a three man midfield could both offer extra protection to Gerrard’s ageing legs and assist Henderson with the workload in the middle of the park, and after an impressive half hour cameo against Everton, Coutinho could be the perfect choice to do just that in a deeper midfield role.

That would allow Lallana and Raheem Sterling to join Mario Balotelli in three man attack, with Markovic – who is still finding his feet at Anfield – dropping to the bench.

Daniel Sturridge has been left at home after being monitored in the lead up to departure, but the England international is hoping to be available for selection for the weekend’s match against West Brom.

The Line Up

If Rodgers chooses to keep faith with the 4-2-3-1 shape, Liverpool could line up against Basel looking like this:

Basel 4-2-3-1

However, Rodgers should change the system deploying a three man midfield for reasons documented in a challenging fixture, and a 4-3-3 shape should see Liverpool line up for the match looking like this:

basel 4-3-3

The Liverpool bench should look like this:

Jones, Toure, Enrique, Lucas, Suso, Markovic, Lambert.

Wednesday’s game presents a massive chance for Liverpool to really put themself in a strong position in Group B, before they welcome the reigning champions to Anfield in what promises to be a mouth-watering tie.

The Reds received a reality check against a determined Ludogorets in the first fixture, and Rodgers’ inexperienced side will know that they’ll have to be somewhere close to their best if they want to arrive back to Merseyside with maximum points from their first two European fixtures.