Liverpool seek Sevilla revenge and will aim to top group: UCL Group E preview
With the UEFA Champions League starting on Tuesday 12th September, ENRG Sport is previewing the famous European competition by analysing each of the eight groups, providing you with all the information so you know what to expect as the tournament progresses.
By Kris Gourlay
Group E may not be the most exciting group of the bunch but it does contain two possible dark horses in Liverpool and Sevilla, who will be looking to swap their success in the Europa League in recent years for that of the Champions League. The group is made whole by Spartak Moskva of Russia and NK Maribor from Slovenia.
This year’s competition sees the return of Liverpool, looking to improve on their failed attempt to set Europe alight back in the 2014/15 season when they were knocked out in the group stages. Jurgen Klopp’s Reds certainly have the weapons to cause an upset in the competition this year, with the attacking trio of Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah looking like a real handful so far this season, scoring 7 goals between them in Liverpool’s opening 4 games.
The reintegration of Philippe Coutinho into the team is another plus for the Reds after his failed summer transfer to Barcelona. The Brazilian could be brought in to bolster Liverpool’s attack in their opening fixture against Sevilla on Wednesday. After ending their heroic Europa League run with defeat to Sevilla in the final last year, Klopp will be gunning for the Spanish team from the off as they look to stamp their authority on this year’s prestigious competition.
Defence is still an issue for Liverpool however, as they failed to land top target Virgil Van Dijk in the summer transfer window and as a result have been left weak at the back, conceding 5 against Man City at the weekend.
Liverpool enter the competition having fought hard for 4th place in the Premier League last season and coming through a qualifier against Hoffenheim as 6-3 winners on aggregate. It hasn’t been an easy ride to earn their place but Klopp will be hoping his side can make significant progress in this year’s competition.
Tournament odds: 20/1
Sevilla return to the competition this year having also finished 4th in their league in what was an impressive campaign to end Jorge Sampaoli short reign at the club. They are now in the hands of ex-Celta Vigo manager Eduardo Berizzo, who will be hoping to lead a successful domestic campaign in his first season at the club.
Sevilla are not short of experience in Europe having won the Europa League in 2014, 2015 and 2016, where they triumphed over Liverpool, and currently hold the record for winning the competition the most times.
Berizzo’s men will be looking to comfortably progress from Group E this year and make it further than the last 32, where the Spanish team bowed out last year at the hands of Leicester. They will have to do it, however, with a somewhat weaker team.
Wassim Ben Yedder leads the line for Sevilla this year after Stevan Jovetic and Luciano Vietto returned to their respective clubs after loan spells in Spain. They also lost key men Vitolo, Rami and Iborra whilst bringing in ex-Manchester City men Nolito and Jesus Navas. A front 3 of Ben Yedder, Nolito and Navas certainly provides pace and skill, but is it enough to mount a Champions League charge this season?
Excluding last year’s round 32 exit, Sevilla’s last appearance in the competition was during the 2015/16 season where they failed to make it past the group stages, a task that seems a formality rather than an expectation for them this time around.
Tournament odds: 66/1
Spartak Moscow took the Russian League by storm last season, winning it comfortably for the first time in 16 years. Spartak are Russia’s most successful club, winning a record 10 Russian championships, 10 Soviet cups and 3 Russian cups. They have also reached the semifinals of all 3 European club competitions. The club’s last appearance in the UCL was during the 2012/13 season where they failed to make it out of the group stages.
Spartak have a strong team this season with a deadly attack containing Quincy Promes, who was heavily linked with a move to Liverpool this summer, and Ex- AC Milan and CSKA Moscow striker, Luiz Adriano, who famously shares a Champions League record with none other than Lionel Messi for scoring 5 goals in a single game.
During the summer, the club signed promising Brazilian Pedro Rocha from Gremio for £10.8m as well as Mario Pasalic on loan from Chelsea, so they’re not short of talent.
Tournament odds: 200/1
Maribor are not the most decorated team in the group but are not to be overlooked. They have won the Slovenian league in 6 of the last 7 seasons, including last year, and are the most successful team in the country, winning the league 14 times in total.
The team currently lies 2nd in the league this season and are unbeaten after 8 games, winning 5 and drawing 3. Maribor’s danger men and players to look out for are Aleks Pihler with 3 goals so far in the league, Damjan Bohar, scoring 2 goals this season, and Marcos Tavares, also scoring 2 goals.
Maribor’s top goalscorer last season, Luka Zahovic is currently injured after limping off in the team’s 3-2 win over Krsko Posavje a few weeks ago, this is a huge blow for the Slovenian champions with Zahovic scoring 15 league goals last season and would certainly be in the managers plans against Spartak on Wednesday.
Maribor don’t have a glistening track record in Europe, having crashed out in the group stages during the 2014/15 season and failed to make it past the qualifying round in the Europa League last year.
Tournament odds: 500/1
Kris’ Group E Prediction:
- Spartak Moscow
- NK Maribor