RUBIN Kazan. What can you say about them that hasn’t been said before?
Firstly, how about “it’s close”? No-one is saying that. Perhaps “it’s easy to get to.” No-one is saying that either. Because these things are lies, it isn’t close, it isn’t easy to get to. The travelling Reds who really matter — the supporters — deserve to have everything doffed in their general direction. It’s miles away, a nightmare to get to and there isn’t a lot there, I have been reliably informed.
The travelling Reds who matter a bit are the players. And we are reportedly taking all of them. All of them who can walk/have been registered are going. A plane load. Maybe they are all going because there is a ton to do in Kazan. Maybe they will be going paintballing in the Tatarstan woods for team-building or playing Risk in the Shalyapin Palace Hotel between a series of presentations around their expected individual and collective KPIs under this new Kloppian regime. Maybe when playing Risk they will realise how difficult it is to fight a war on two fronts. Who knows? Who knows why they are all there.
Because they can’t all be going to play football. They can’t all be travelling all this way just to play football. Only 14 of them can feature in this competitive game of football. And yet there they all are. Boarding planes, going a long, long way to possibly not play football.
We’re not in the camp with a sense of what the group of players need. We don’t have the medical advice. A little bit of knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Perhaps the hierarchy have tasked Klopp to give Liverpool the best possible chance of winning this competition. We wouldn’t know because they don’t bother telling us. Perhaps they have fallen for the frankly absolute nonsense line that our most likely way back into the Champions League is through winning the Europa League. We’ve just won at Stamford Bridge, lads, leaving Chelsea nowhere. Regardless. Regardless.
Most sides Liverpool put out should be able to get a result in Kazan. Any side Liverpool put out against Kazan can drop points. And regardless of what side and how fresh they are, any side Liverpool put out against Crystal Palace could drop points, too. Freshness can be important. Freshness can be discounted. Momentum can be important. Momentum can be discounted.
It’s not a science though science is involved. It is one of them. Often you can’t do right for doing wrong, sometimes you can do wrong and still end up getting the right result. That is football for you. Determined to make fools of us all.
What do I know? What do we know? Not enough, never, ever, ever enough.
And so. Put it all out of your mind. There is going to be a Liverpool 11 on a pitch. Who should we will on? Who are our favourites? To quote the endlessly sensible Steve Graves: “my favourites are the 11 who play for Liverpool.”
We’ve seen Kazan. They are alright. Good on the break. A side who clearly possess nous and speed. They’ll take a fair bit of beating on their own turf in the freezing cold of the Russian winter, but as per the above almost any 11 Liverpool put out should be capable of getting a result, therefore the first 11 should certainly get a result against them.
So if all these lads are boarding planes then let’s do this properly and do everything we can to win the game, then beat Bordeaux at Anfield and then be able to have a look at some youngsters at Sion away.
Start them all bar Mamadou Sakho and Philippe Coutinho, the former so he can hopefully stay away from his muscle injuries, the latter to come on for Roberto Firmino last 30.
My team from those who have travelled: Mignolet; Clyne, Skrtel, Lovren, Moreno; Lucas, Can, Milner; Firmino, Lallana; Benteke. I could have been convinced to have a look at Milner at either full back position, simply to rest legs, but that ship might have sailed.
However, the whole thing isn’t what I’d do. May not be what you’d do. But what do we know? I’ll say again, not enough, never enough. Our job is to support and the hardiest of our number are brilliantly doing just that in Kazan.
One thing we do know, more than almost anything, is this — it is not easy being Liverpool manager. You can’t do right for doing wrong.
So just win the game, Liverpool. Win the bloody game.
(Wrap) Up (Warm) The Reds.
Injuries: Jordan Henderson (metatarsal), Jordan Rossiter (hamstring), Joe Gomez (ACL), Danny Ings (ACL), Daniel Sturridge (knee), Jon Flanagan (knee), Kolo Toure (hamstring).
Match details: Kick off: Thursday, November 5, 6pm, live on BT Sport Showcase/BT Sport Europe
Odds: Rubin Kazan 16/5, Draw 5-2, Liverpool 10/11
Liverpool pics: David Rawcliffe-Propaganda-Photo