Liverpool are very much expected to triumph in the first leg of their last 32 clash with Turkish side Besiktas tonight, however it won't be as easy as many pundits predict.
The last clash between these sides at Anfield was back in 2007/08, the Reds running out emphatic 8-0 winners. We’re not expecting a repeat of this scoreline ( 500/1 ) by any means, however we are expecting a home win for Brendan Rodgers’ side as they continue to turn their season around with some excellent recent results.
Steven Gerrard, Ryan Babel and Peter Crouch all scored in that massive win last time around with Yossi Benayoun scoring a hat-trick, however this clash will not be anything like as convincing. Nevertheless, the Reds will give themselves a huge cushion ahead of the reverse leg in Istanbul.
Besiktas are a decent side these days and are currently in the middle of a three-horse-race for the Turkish domestic title along with Galatasaray and Fenerbahce. Indeed they came close to knocking Arsenal out of the qualifiers earlier this season and finished on top of the Group ahead of Spurs.
Leading the Besiktas attack will be one Demba Ba and Liverpool fans will be mindful of the time he pounced on a mistake by Gerrard at Anfield whilst playing for Chelsea back in April to score the goal which contributed to the end of Liverpool’s title dreams.
Ba has managed eighteen goals this season to date since his £8million transfer to the Turkish side, however he won’t be facing Gerrard this time around thanks to the Reds stalwart suffering a hamstring injury.
Nevertheless, Liverpool are enjoying some excellent form and Raheem Sterling may make an appearance, however should the England star miss out this clash, Daniel Sturridge is back on the goal-trail with two strikes since his return from injury and will be tasked with tormenting the visitors’ rearguard.
Liverpool have been dominant in their last few outings, however don’t for a second expect a repeat of that 8-0 scoreline. It won’t be that easy.
Live coverage on ITV1 at 8:05pm, Thursday 19th February
Our betting tips
Liverpool win, both teams to score – 888sport 31/10
Over 2.5 Goals – Paddy Power Evens