BORDEAUX. Just arrived that bit too early for me this autumn. Can’t justify this Thursday to be in amongst the vineyards. Were we playing it when we go to Kazan, well that could be quite different. Means it’ll be the telly for me watching this, though that’s alright these days.
However, it is a bit of a shame, because after speaking to Julien Laurens it becomes clear that for Bordeaux this is a massive encounter — it is their first taste of European football in their new home ground and they rested players in their last game with one eye on this one.
That’s very different to Brendan Rodgers’s toiling Reds, who find themselves leaving six of the Old Trafford starters at home. Six. Very halfway house six. Very halfway house, Reds.
There is a load of talk about whether Liverpool should take this competition seriously; I’d venture it is possible to take it seriously enough while resting players. In 2012-13 Liverpool consistently made changes and blooded youngsters and yet progressed from the group stage. For Anzhi, read Ruben Kazan. For Young Boys, read Sion. For Udinese, read Bordeaux.
Changes need to be made in both the strident sense and in the sense that changing and refreshing this squad is a good thing. It was the Europa League that acted as springboard for Jordan Henderson’s trajectory to the Liverpool captaincy and terrifying trips to America for a mystery foot injury. Were it not for making changes in 2012 we may well not have that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads now.
Like Udinese in 2012, Bordeaux are good. They aren’t great but they are good. They got a 2-2 with Paris St Germain in their last game and they beat them last season at home along with Marseille and Monaco.
They aren’t mugs, far from it. And this will be one of the biggest games in the lives of many of Willy Sagnol’s youngish squad. This is the thing about being Liverpool. You will always be a scalp. The Reds’s historical record against French sides away from home supports this too — 13 games resulting in: W5 D1 L7.
Bordeaux are highly likely to line up with their strongest 11, possibly in a 4-4-2 with their top scorer and generally acknowledged best player Wahbi Khazri either playing off a flank or in behind, buzzing about and generally being a nuisance, albeit a very classy one.
Liverpool won’t want to dawdle on the ball and will watch to watch for runners beyond and look to be able to deal with set pieces with Khazri on the pitch.
All the best.
Who will definitely start?
Presumably given who has travelled we can expect Simon Mignolet, Mamadou Sakho, Kolo Toure, Emre Can, Danny Ings and Divock Origi all to start. Adam Lallana, Roberto Firmino and Philippe Coutinho have all travelled, too. Jordon Ibe is in the party. You’d expect to see Joe Gomez and Alberto Moreno in the starting 11 unless there is a surprise full back selection from The Reds. Andre Wisdom definitely won’t start as he is at Norwich.
I reckon we will see a midfield three of Jordan Rossiter, Can and Coutinho and a front three of Ibe, Ings and Origi in a 4-3-3 which will hopefully be a bit more of a lopsided 4-4-2; Ibe holding his width, Gomez holding his position, Moreno given licence to bomb and Ings or Origi tucking in from the other flank. I’d then expect to see Firmino and Lallana come off the bench.
But what do I know? When this draw was made I was really looking forward to this fixture. A chance for Rossiter to express himself, a chance for Sakho to assert himself, a chance for Can to find himself.
Instead Liverpool’s Premier League results have undermined this. No side wants to lose three on the bounce and there will be blood should that happen but on the other hand any result Liverpool get against a psyched-up Bordeaux side will quickly be washed away because the challenge is Norwich City at home on Sunday.
That the challenge is indeed Norwich City at home on Sunday is simultaneously a bit mad and completely correct and accurate. The league needs to be our bread and butter and the manager needs results and performances from the next two league games.
And so now, because of context, because of results, because it’s a mixed-up world, because performances have been nowhere near good enough, because of all the becauses, Bordeaux will now simply have to be borne. And that, like not being there, is a shame.
They want a party and a carnival, they want their first European game in their new ground to be against the Mighty Liverpool. They probably deserve better than the self-loathing lot who are turning up, figuratively at least.
But they’ve got us, and, like a couple rowing as they get ready for a house-warming party neither of them is entirely committed to the notion of attending, we just need to go there, slap some smiles on our faces and make the best of it. That clear?
Up the grouchy Reds. I’m going Bordeaux 1 Liverpool 1.
Previous matches: Bordeaux 0 Liverpool 1 (Crouch) — Champions League 1st group phase, October 18, 2006; Liverpool 3 (Garcia 2, Gerrard) Bordeaux 0 — Champions League 1st group phase, October 31, 2006.
Odds: Bordeaux 7/4, Draw 12/5, Liverpool 19/10
TV: Live on BT Sport Europe, kick off 6pm.
Pics: PA Images & David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo