Weblog: The football punter

Liverpool set to
pass Spanish test

Sky Sports Premier League, 8pm Monday

LIVERPOOL are in the least comfortable position of England's quintet of Champions League clubs going into matchday five but they can seal a place in the knockout stage by beating Sevilla in Andalusia.

When the group-stage draw was made the general consensus was that Liverpool had got off lightly.

However, draws at home to Sevilla (2-2) and away to Spartak Moscow (1-1) were below expectations and put the pressure on Jurgen Klopp's side to deliver in their back-to-back games with Maribor.

They swatted aside the Slovenian champions with ease - banking six points with an aggregate score of 10-0 - but Liverpool need a minimum of two points to qualify for the knockout stages and the Merseysiders can claim a huge result in Spain.

Second-placed Sevilla's position is more precarious.

Anything less than a victory over Liverpool would open the door for Spartak to climb into the top two with a home win over Maribor.

However, Sevilla can take solace from a string of good results on home soil.

They are unbeaten in 25 games at the Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium and last tasted defeat there at the same stage of the 2016-17 Champions League when losing 3-1 to Juventus.

However, Sevilla were pushed hard by Spartak on matchday four and are up against greater quality than when overcoming the Russians 2-1.

Sevilla were delighted with their 2-2 draw at Anfield but were flattered by the result after losing the shot count 17-5.

Defensive lapses cost Liverpool on the night but Klopp's men have been looking more solid since last month's 4-1 loss to Tottenham.

They have kept three clean sheets in the last four games and goalkeeper Simon Mignolet didn't have to field a single shot on target as they cruised to a 3-0 success over Southampton on Saturday.

Saints are going through a rough patch but it was close to a complete performance from Liverpool, who looked dangerous in attack with Mohamed Salah, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane starting in the same side for the first time in a Premier League match this season.

Confidence is on the rise and Klopp's options are increasing with Adam Lallana back in the squad and in contention for a place on the bench.

Liverpool's hopes of a top-four finish have been rekindled and, with a bit of good fortune, they are capable of a good run in the Champions League.

History has proven that winning in Sevilla is no easy task.

However, Liverpool make the trip in the best physical and mental condition they have been in this season and have the tools to get the job done.

Sevilla's position in the group means they have to play on the front foot and push for three points.

But Eduardo Berizzo's outfit are not an especially free-scoring side - their 14-goal league tally is the lowest among La Liga's top eight - and they are likely to be caught out if leaving too much space.

Liverpool, with Mane and Salah in the side, have pace to burn on the counter and look good value on the draw no bet market.

Liverpool draw no bet

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Match in Focus

17:00 TODAY BT S

FK Qarabag v Chelsea

Home Win Draw Away Win
Key stats
  • Chelsea have won their last three league matches to nil
Expert verdict
A victory for Chelsea would secure their place in the Champions League knockout stages but Qarabag have showed how dogged they can be on home soil and punters should expect a tight, low-scoring affar. Chelsea ran riot in a 6-0 thumping when Qarabag travelled to Stamford Bridge but an early goal saw the floodgates open and the Azerbaijani hosts should deliver a more disciplined performance on their own patch.