LIVERPOOL VS FC SION PREVIEW: BELIEVE IN THE YOUNGSTERS
Just before the international weekend break, Liverpool will play two crucial fixtures in the next four days, the results of which will certainly have a noticeable effect for the entire season. On Thursday, Liverpool’s Europa League campaign continues, where the Reds are scheduled to host the Swiss team FC Sion, who are currently on the top of Group B after a 2-1 home victory against Rubin Kazan 2 weeks back.
Drastic squad changes expected
With Liverpool set to play against Everton at Goodison Park on Sunday, Reds’ manager Brendan Rodgers can be expected to make wholesale changes to the squad tomorrow compared to the last fixture against Aston Villa. So far in the season, Rodgers has opted to provide first-team opportunities to academy players and new signings- a trend which can be expected to continue tomorrow as well. The likes of Divock Origi, Jordan Rossiter, Joe Gomez, Cameron Brannagan and Pedro Chirivella have been tipped to start tomorrow, with several senior players expected to be rested. Injuries to Christian Benteke, Roberto Firmino and Jordan Henderson will also mean that Rodgers will be forced to start with a younger side against Sion.
However, the likes of Danny Ings, Alberto Moreno, Adam Lallana, Jordan Ibe, Martin Skrtel, Kolo Toure and Mamadou Sakho can be expected to be in the squad tomorrow. It’s been expected that Rodgers may opt to play Adam Bogdan as the goalie, after his brilliant display against Carlisle.
Sion won’t be easy opponents
Swiss teams have been performing really well in European tournaments in the past few seasons. Fans might remember the fact that Liverpool were knocked out of last season’s Champions League group stages by another Swiss club FC Basel. The Swiss top tier system incorporates 10 clubs every season, with each club playing against the others four times finishing 36 games in the Swiss Super League. Another major trophy played in Switzerland is the Swiss Cup, where the two finalists play six games in total. Thus, a top tier Swiss club will play a maximum of 42 games in their country. Compared to that, a Premier League club like Liverpool will often feature in around 50+ games per season in their home country. This relatively less intensive season at home ensures that Swiss teams get more time to prepare for European fixtures. In addition, the Swiss FA have been known to flexibly adjust the busy home schedules for its European representatives so as to ensure better chances for success in the continental level.
Despite finishing seventh in the Swiss Super League, FC Sion qualified in the Europa League group stages as the winners of the 2014/15 Swiss Cup. Their winning performance against emerging Russian club Rubin Kazan proved exactly what they are capable of. Thus, defeating Sion at home isn’t going to be easy, considering the fact that Rodgers will be fielding a younger Liverpool squad.
Liverpool have played against FC Sion on two occasions, both in 1996 during the Round 2 stages of the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup. Liverpool won the tie 8-4 on aggregate, winning a high scoring 6-3 game at Anfield and 2-1 at Sion. Yet, history obviously won’t matter a lot when the two teams will play on Thursday night.