- Group E led surprisingly by Napoli, not Liverpool
- Tricky campaign so far for the European champions
- The Reds massive -357 favorites to win in Genk
Group E was supposed to be a stroll for the current European champion, but Liverpool’s opening day defeat in Naples gave it an unexpected twist. It’s Napoli, not the Reds, who now lead the group meaning that Jurgen Klopp’s men dare not slip up again, making next Wednesday’s game against Genk on October 23, at 3:00 pm EST doubly vital.
Clearly, Liverpool start as big favorites, but we’ll have a look and see if we can find some value.
UEFA Champions League – Genk vs Liverpool Odds
|Team||Spread||Moneyline||Total||Odds to Win Group E|
|Genk||+1.5, +2.0 (-115)||+775||O 3.0, 3.5 (-119)||+3300|
|Liverpool||-1.5, -2.0 (-101)||-357||U 3.0, 3.5 (+103)||-1600|
*All odds taken on October 17, 2019
Despite being odds-on for the win, Liverpool will be looking to end a run of four consecutive away defeats in the Champions League group stage as they travel to Genk, who themselves earned their first point of this year’s tournament with a good home performance last time out.
After their opening day horror show in Naples, Liverpool bounced back with a pulsating home win against Salzburg on Matchday 2, and they now sit level on points with the Austrians, one point behind leaders Napoli.
After storming into a three-goal lead against Salzburg – goals from Mane, Robertson and Salah – they found themselves pegged back by the Austrian champions and goals from Hwang, Minamino and Haaland pulling them dramatically level.
Only a winner from Salah with 20 minutes remaining saved the Reds’ blushes. A draw would have left the European champions with work to do to make top two, but the win keeps them in touch with Napoli and still on course to qualify.
Genk’s own campaign got off to just about the worst possible start with a 6-2 thumping in Salzburg – their heaviest defeat in European competition since a 7-0 defeat at Valencia in the 2011 group stages – but they bounced back well with a hard-earned and worthy 0-0 draw with Napoli last time out.
The Belgians do have defensive issues to resolves though – they have conceded ten goals in their last three European fixtures, scoring three in the process – and so the trip to Anfield represents a huge challenge for them. Despite being regular competitors in European competition, Genk still await their first victory in the Champions League proper.
On the plus side, they have lost only two of their 12 home Champions League matches – won four, drawn six – and are unbeaten in the last six. They can also point to having scored at least once in 30 of their last 32 European matches, and so will be confident of being able to trouble the Liverpool defense.
The big test, of course, will be can Genk handle the Red’s attacking trio of Salah, Mane and Firmino, and therein lies their problem and the conundrum with which coach Felice Mazzù has to wrestle. If they attack the Reds, they play to their own strength but also to Liverpool’s, who thrive on swift counter-attacks to cut holes in the defense of their opponents. If Genk try and keep it tight, then Liverpool will look to use their high press to win the ball back deep in Genk territory.
Conundrum for Mazzù
Tactically, this is a really tricky one for Mazzù, and even if he gets it right, Liverpool’s extra firepower may still be enough to see them home. The loss in Napoli will have made the Reds all the more determined to get the job done by not dropping any more cheap points.
Felice Mazzu is the new manager of Genk pic.twitter.com/qViikrcWld
— Football 24/7 (@Foet247Benelux) June 3, 2019
One possible positive for Genk, however, is Liverpool’s total dominance of the EPL so far this season, where they still have a 100-percent record. Adversely, this may impact on the Champions League form, as winning the EPL title for the first time since 1990 has now become the Holy Grail on Merseyside. While still massive, the Champions League may, just may, now be second on their list of priorities.
It remains a huge ask for Genk though and while it’s not inconceivable they could get an early lead, I predict an ultimately comfortable evening for Klopp’s men.
My pick: Liverpool to win 3-1