Augsburg squeezed past Partizan Belgrade to claim the runners-up spot on goal difference in Group L with nine points in their first European campaign. They’re struggling down in 14th in the Bundesliga this season with just five wins from their 21 games as their small squad has struggled to cope with their first season in Europe after their excellent campaign last term. Liverpool, meanwhile have been hit and miss under Klopp since he replaced Brendan Rogers and despite four draws in the group stages they topped a closely contested Group B with 10 points.
Augsburg managed to score in all of their group games but kept just one clean sheet as their matches were full of goals, with five seeing more than three strikes. We have Augsburg as the 61st best side in Europe while Liverpool are only slightly higher in 42nd. In the Bundesliga, Schalke and Mainz are of a similar grade to Liverpool and Augsburg beat Schalke 2-1 prior to the winter break whilst they drew 3-3 against Mainz earlier in the season. Interestingly, their only defeat in their last four home games against top-half Bundesliga sides was against Bayern Munich on the weekend as they managed draws against Wolfsburg and Mainz along with that win over Schalke.
Liverpool thumped hapless Villa 6-0 at Villa Park on Sunday to record only their second win in their last seven in the league, the other being a remarkable 5-4 win at Carrow Road. Their wins in the group stages came at home to Bordeaux and away at Rubin Kazan, both results once Klopp had taken over. Their European away record against sides ranked between 50th and 81st since 2006/07 is W3-D3-L2 and they’ve only won one of the last five of these games since 2010/11.
Daniel Sturridge made his long-awaited return on the weekend and while it’s unclear whether he’ll be risked for this one, the Reds certainly look very exciting with him, Coutinho and Firmino in the side.
If that trio make the starting line-up then we’d back there to be goals in this one, with Over 2.5 Goals currently priced at 2.1. However, given the uncertainty over their availability, we’re taking on Liverpool. They’ve been knocked out at this stage of the Europa League in their last two attempts, by Besiktas last season and by Zenit back in 2012/13 and their record in away Last 32 and Last 16 Europa League ties since 2009/10 is a modest W1-D1-L4 as they failed to score in five of these games.
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