Girondins de Bordeaux kick off their Europa League campaign with a home tie against 18-time English champions Liverpool on Thursday night.
After falling to defeat at the hands of their most bitter rivals last weekend, a mid-week retreat to the south-west of France may not sound all that exhausting to Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool side.
The Merseysiders whimpered in a 3-1 loss at Old Trafford on Saturday evening in a game where France U21 striker Anthony Martial stole the plaudits with a fine solo goal on his debut. Liverpool’s gutless display was deserving of nothing more.
The Reds have a favourable record against the French side after beating them twice in the 2006/2007 Champions League group stages. Liverpool scored a total of four goals over the two fixtures with Peter Crouch netting the crucial winner in France nine years ago.
But the Matmut Atlantique, despite its unassuming elegance, may not provide Liverpool with the solace they seek on Thursday evening. Bordeaux are unbeaten in their last four Ligue 1 matches and held French champions Paris Saint Germain to a 2-2 draw at the Parc des Princes in their last domestic fixture. Defensive midfielder André Biyogo Poko spoke to Foot Express ahead of Liverpool’s visit, claiming the English side are not as potent as they once were.
“After having played PSG, we are happy to continue to play games that are as exciting as these. Liverpool are of the same calibre as PSG. It is a pleasure to play in the Europa League. It is not the same Liverpool from 10 years ago. We are capable of getting a good result.”
Willy Sagnol’s men have endured an unpleasant start to the domestic campaign – they’ve won just one of their first five games – but with only one loss to their name, they’re a difficult team to beat.
Willy Sagnol will be without striker Cheick Diabate after the Mali international injured his right leg prior to Bordeaux’s Europa League play-off tie against Kairat.
Midfielder Greg Sertic is also out as he continues to recover from a cruciate ligament injury. Thomas Toure, Ludovic Sane and Jaroslav Plasil all remain out.
Liverpool will reclaim the services of Philippe Coutinho after the Brazilian missed out on the defeat in Manchester through suspension. The 23-year-old has called for calm ahead of the Europa League clash and preached the importance of the game.
“It is vital to stay calm, mainly because we are just at the beginning in all competitions,” the midfielder told www.liverpoolfc.com.
“We have a long season ahead and many things can happen. The Premier League is tough – all clubs have great teams – and we know twists and turns will happen.”
“After two consecutive defeats, we’re conscious there’s going to be more pressure from the outside – we have to do things right on the pitch so we can achieve good results.
“It (Bordeaux) is a very important game as it’s our first in the Europa League.”
Captain Jordan Henderson is unavailable as he continues to undergo treatment on an injured heel in the USA. Long term absentees Daniel Sturridge and Adam Lallana could make the bench.
Wahbi Khazri is the Girondins top scorer this season with three goals and his ingenuity in the final third has been the key to unlocking defences so far this term. Khazri has created 15 chances in Ligue 1, more than any other Bordeaux player, and his goal against PSG last weekend rescued his side a precious point. Khazri will be looking to take advantage of a Liverpool defence that has looked suspect.
The return of Philippe Coutinho will certainly provide Brendan Rodgers with confidence heading into the tie. The former Inter Milan player has the ability to score a wonder goal at the flick of a switch and one moment of brilliance could be what it takes to walk away from France with a good result.
If Bordeaux can pressurise their guests from the first whistle and take expose cracks in a shaky back line, an upset could be on the cards.
Bordeaux 1-1 Liverpool