The Reds’ poor domestic form in 2021 has been tempered by a dominant 2-0 win ‘away’ to Leipzig in the first leg of their last-16 tie.
Budapest’s Puskas Arena will again play host to the ‘home’ tie in midweek, and Liverpool will be looking to ease their way into the quarter-finals, in what is now arguably their simplest route to next season’s Champions League.
Leipzig utility man Tyler Adams told Sportbuzzer at the end of last month that “the wound is still open” from their first-leg loss, and that it will “100 percent” serve as motivation to score the three goals needed to overcome the odds.
Adams started as right wing-back in a 3-5-2 setup in Saturday’s away clash with Freiburg, and played a key role in their 3-0 win at the Schwarzwald-Stadion.
Julian Nagelsmann named a similar side to that which took on Liverpool, with the only changes being the strike pairing of Alexander Sorloth and Yussuf Poulsen coming in for Angelino and the suspended Marcel Sabitzer.
It paid off, as Poulsen set up the first goal for Christopher Nkunku, while Sorloth scored one and assisted the other for substitute Emil Forsberg in the second half to seal a comprehensive victory.
As the game wore on, Leipzig truly found their fluency, showing the patience required to break apart Freiburg with only 25 percent of the game played in their own defensive third.
The result put Nagelsmann’s side top of the Bundesliga, albeit with Bayern Munich given the chance to leapfrog them again later on Saturday as they host Dortmund in a huge clash.
And given the scoreline, it serves as the ideal preparation for when they and Liverpool meet again in Budapest on Wednesday night, with German travel restrictions forcing another neutral venue.
With Sabitzer due to return to contention, and the likes of Nkunku, Amadou Haidara and Dani Olmo showing their versatility by switching roles at Freiburg, Nagelsmann has a variety of options as he plots an upset.
The Reds remain favourites in the Champions League, however, and This Is Anfield’s Chris Williams has already raised the question of whether Leipzig can maintain a title tilt in the Bundesliga – which is currently between them and Bayern – with a sustained push in Europe.
Leipzig XI vs. Freiburg: Gulacsi; Mukiele, Upamecano, Klostermann (Konate 84′); Kampl; Adams (Henrichs 84′), Nkunku (Samardzic 85′), Olmo (Forsberg 63′), Haidara; Sorloth, Poulsen (Hwang 63′)
Subs not used: Martinez, Tschauner, Kluivert