Liverpool Returns to Champions League Group Stage With Sevilla Opener
Liverpool's first Champions League campaign under Jürgen Klopp sees them face Sevilla in Group E's opening round of fixtures on Wednesday.
Both sides earned their place in the group stage via the playoffs and Reds fans will hope that their side can produce a display similar to their 4-2 victory over Hoffenheim in the previous stage.
Here's everything you need to know ahead of the clash at Anfield:
While Liverpool disposed of Hoffenheim rather professionally in the playoffs, the five-time European champions are 8th in the Premier League and a recent 5-0 thumping by Manchester City may have removed the confidence gained by the Reds' 4-0 victory of Arsenal two weeks before.
Eight goals conceded in four games shows that defence is still Liverpool's weakness, but Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah have started well upfront and are Liverpool's top goalscorers with three goals each.
Sevilla sit 2nd in La Liga and have conceded just once in the league.
Despite losing notable names in the summer transfer window such as Vitolo and Adil Rami, Eduardo Berizzo's side have started the season brightly and striker Wissam Ben Yedder's goal in their recent 3-0 win over Eibar was his third in just four games.
Liverpool suffered a dramatic second-half collapse last time the sides met, with Sevilla coming from a goal down to win 3-1 in the 2016 Europa League final.
Klopp's men had overseen victories against Manchester United, Borussia Dortmund and Villarreal among others to reach the final and it looked as if their good form would continue after Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring in the 35th minute.
The Reds were denied a penalty in the first half when Sevilla's Daniel Carrico clearly handled as Roberto Firmino tried to weave past him, but they were left stunned as Kevin Gameiro equalised just 17 seconds after half-time.
Liverpool simply could not recover and were more or less out of the game once Sevilla skipper Coke netted a double inside six minutes to leave their opponents needing two goals in the last 20 minutes to force extra time - it never happened.
Joel Matip & Dejan Lovren vs Wissam Ben Yedder
It is well known that Liverpool's main weaknesses lie in their defence, and so it should be clear that how effectively the Reds' back line deals with the Sevilla attackers will determine the outcome of the game.
Despite being only 26-years-old, Joel Matip has over 300 career appearances and so manager Klopp will be expecting the Cameroon international to make use of his experience on Wednesday evening alongside Dejan Lovren, who has recently has something of a renaissance after a dodgy start to his Liverpool career.
Although Sevilla's new signing Luis Muriel showed a lot of potential last season for Sampdoria, but much of the focus will be on Wissam Ben Yedder to lead the line for the Spanish side and provide a match-winning performance.
The Frenchman scored 18 times last season and so if the Liverpool defence are lacking in consistency, which they often were guilty of last year, and Ben Yedder is allowed to dictate the game, then it could be a long night for the Anfield faithful.
Sadio Mané is expected to start as his red card against Manchester City applies only to domestic fixtures, while Philippe Coutinho is expected to make the bench in order to get some game time before potentially taking Mané's place in Liverpool's Premier League starting eleven.
Jürgen Klopp is expected to rotate his squad slightly, with Andrew Robertson coming in at left-back, Joe Gomez at right-back, Lovren returning at the heart of defence and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain set to make his dome debut in midfield.
Goalkeeper David Soria is Sevilla's only injury doubt going into Wednesday's fixture.
Potential Liverpool Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Mignolet; Gomez, Matip, Lovren, Robertson; Oxlade-Chamberlain, Henderson, Wijnaldum; Salah, Firmino, Mané.
Potential Sevilla Starting Lineup (4-1-4-1): Rico; Mercado, Pareja, Lenglet, Escudero; N'Zonzi; Navas, Pizarro, Banega, Nolito; Ben Yedder.
Despite managing the club for almost two years now, Liverpool manager Klopp still had not made any major changes in defence and once again it would be hard to predict a clean sheet at Anfield.
However, the Reds' front three are in such fine form that Klopp may be able to see his side scrape through and start their Champions League campaign with a win.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Sevilla