In this preview, we take a look at Group E which saw two exciting draws in its first round of fixtures. Firstly, Sevilla, who gave their fans hope of a successful Champions League campaign with an exciting 2:2 draw to Liverpool, play Maribor, who played in a draw marred by over-excited and sometimes violent fans with Spartak Moscow. The other game will, of course, see Liverpool versus Spartak Moscow in Russia in what should be a crunch match for both sides in their search for progression to the next round of Europe’s top competition.
Sevilla (Spa) vs. Maribor (Slo)
Three-Way: 1: Sevilla -417; X: +800 Draw; Maribor +2500
Spread -2.5: Sevilla +135; Maribor -130
Total +3: Over -135; Under +131
A thrilling game in Liverpool saw Sevilla come back from behind to earn a good 2:2 draw despite being under the cosh for large parts of the game. Although they did equalize, they originally led the game through a close-range Ben Yedder goal within five minutes. Liverpool came back strongly and took the lead within the first half and continued to barrage Sevilla’s goalmouth. That being said, Sevilla were able to expose Liverpool’s defensive frailties enough to get themselves an equalizer and win an important point away at the Champions League group’s trickiest home pitch, Anfield.
Sevilla has been in good domestic form, gaining thirteen points from their first six games. In their last game, however, they lost their first of the season against a strong Atletico Madrid side. Although Las Sevillistas have just come off the back of a loss, a game against Maribor should be an easy win with the quality they have and their European pedigree, having won the UEFA Cup / Europa League five times.
Manager Eduardo Berizzo will be without center-back Simon Kjaer (shoulder), winger Nolito (hamstring) and left-back Sergio Escudero (muscular problems) through injury.
A lively Maribor crowd saw their team earn a 1:0 win against Spartak Moscow in a game that will be remembered for its off-pitch events. Damjan Bohar scored a late equalizer to give their side an important point in their Champions League game, but more notably it sent the home fans into pandemonium and flares were lit around the stadium. Unfortunately, a projectile was fired at the referee and came close to hitting him. The behavior of the fans has marred the match and Maribor may face sanctions from UEFA.
The Slovenian champions have been in excellent league form, being unbeaten in all ten of their league games. They have also won their last two games with wins away at Gorica and Aluminij. They’ll have to travel a bit further than their last away matches and pull a great performance out of the bag to beat their next opponents, Sevilla.
Manager Darko Milanic will be without forwards Luka Zahovic and Dare Vrsic through foot injuries while center-backs Marko Suler and Denis Sme will be out due to a foot injury and an operation respectively.
Sevilla (Spa) vs. Maribor (Slo) – Match Prediction:
Maribor fans will come to Spain in swathes and numbers, and they’ll be loud while trying to create a raucous atmosphere. Other than that, they’ve got nothing going for them with Sevilla having the better squad, the home advantage, and the European history.
Overall, I would recommend going for a comfortable Sevilla victory in a high-scoring game.
MY PICK: Over 3 goals (-135)
Spartak Moscow (Rus) vs. Liverpool (Eng)
Three-Way: 1: Spartak Moscow +508; X: +355 Draw; 2: Liverpool -141
Spread +1: Spartak Moscow -101; Liverpool +106
Total +2.5: Over -137; Under +133
Spartak Moscow will have been disappointed not to get a result away at Maribor, but they’ll probably be glad when the game ended after a crowd-troubled game. Midfielder Aleksandr Samedov opened the scoring for the Russian side in the 59th minute and what looked like may have been the winner until a late equalizer from Maribor. If Spartak Moscow is looking to qualify for the next stage of the Champions League, it was a game they had to win, but an intimidating crowd may have been the reason for letting Maribor have nineteen shots at goal as they crumbled.
After a worrying start to their season, Spartak Moscow has recovered to go unbeaten in their last seven games. The Russian side still finds themselves in lowly eighth position after their poor start and will have to carry on their good form if they wish to qualify for the Champions League next season.
Manager Massimo Carrera will be without Roman Zobnin (ruptured cruciate ligament), Artem Timofeev (ruptured cruciate ligament), Georgi Tigiev (ruptured cruciate ligament), Quincy Promes (hamstring) and Pedro Rocha (calf) all through injury.
The Reds would have hoped for a win at home versus Sevilla after they had the best of the chances in action-packed 2:2 draw. The Spanish scored first within five minutes with a close-range finish after center-back Dejan Lovren fell over while trying to clear the ball. Later, Roberton Firmino finished a nice forward move and Mohamed Salah struck the ball against a defender with the ball looping into the net to give Liverpool the lead. Sevilla then equalized against the run of the mill and condemned the English side to a draw in their first Champions League game since 2014, despite having thirty-one shots to Sevilla’s nine.
Recent form for Liverpool can only be described as dodgy, losing 5:0 to Manchester City in the game before Sevilla, then drawing at home to Burnley and also losing to Leicester City in the League Cup. A win against Leicester City in their last league game suggests that they will be able to turn around the bad patch of results but a loss to Spartak Moscow could spiral their form back into the descent. With a very potent attacking style of play, new signing Mohamed Salah looking excellent and Phillipe Coutinho coming back into the fray, they will fancy their chances against any side despite recent setbacks.
Manager Jurgen Klopp will be without attacking midfielder Adam Lallana (hamstring), right-back Nathaniel Clyne (thigh) and Adam Bogdan (cruciate ligament rupture) through injury. Meanwhile, young center-back Joe Gomez will be out with suspension after being sent off in Liverpool’s last Champions League fixture.
Spartak Moscow (Rus) vs. Liverpool (Eng) – Match Prediction:
Spartak Moscow’s last result to Maribor suggests that they are nothing to be concerned about if you are a Liverpool fan, and the third position is the best they can hope for in this European campaign. That being said, Liverpool is prone to a poor result, but on balance they should have the goals within them to overcome the goals they have the potential to concede and dispatch the Russian side aside. And as always when Liverpool is playing, bet on a high-scoring game.
MY PICK: Liverpool to WIN (-141)
Additional Pick: Over 2.5 goals (-137)
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