Liverpool’s increasingly fragile confidence was clear for all to see as they went 0-2 down after 17 minutes against weekend opponents Brighton.
You could attribute some of that slow start to a 28-day gap since their last Premier League outing, but the Reds’ previously formidable backline has looked increasingly easy to cut through this term, and Leandro Trossard took full advantage in the early going at Anfield.
His brace gave the Seagulls an early lead, with two slick finishes from trademark Brighton build-up play stunning Anfield into silence.
The Reds, better late than never, eventually managed to get a foothold in the contest, and Bobby Firmino reduced the arrears after 33 minutes when slamming home.
Jurgen Klopp had sprung something of a surprise in handing a start to Fabio Carvalho – perhaps as a nod to the miles his South American talents had had to travel in midweek to get back from international duty.
And after hauling the youngster off at half-time to replace him with Luis Diaz, the manager got his immediate reward when the Colombian fed Firmino, whose clever movement and finish saw him net his fifth Premier League goal of the season in as many starts.
The Anfield crowd was voluble once more, and it seemed increasingly likely that Liverpool – with faith returning to their game – would go on and win the contest.
And that seemed almost a given in the 63rd minute when Firmino applied the pressure that ultimately saw Brighton defender Adam Webster put through his own goal.
That, a year ago or less, would have been that, but there is a lack of assuredness in the Liverpool ranks defensively, and that ill-feeling that comes with an absence of confidence was franked when Trossard found himself in space, and he prodded home with seven minutes of normal time to go to secure a deserved point for Brighton and compound the Reds’ misery yet further.
At least this time they won’t have time to stew, with Rangers the visitors to Anfield for the next round of Champions League games on Tuesday.
Liverpool Team News
Klopp knows that Liverpool have to improve defensively, and he will surely be tempted to hand a runout to Ibrahima Konate here.
The young gun featured regularly in the Champions League last term, and while he has been absent through injury of late, he has now returned to full training – he may be given the nod alongside Virgil van Dijk in the centre of defence.
Kostas Tsimikas may continue to deputise for Andy Robertson at left back, with the Scot struggling to shake off his knee injury, and decisions will need to be made in midfield – neither Jordan Henderson nor Thiago, historically, have been fit enough or boast the resistance to injury to play three times in a week.
As such, it’s possible that Harvey Elliott will come in for Thiago.
In attack, how do you drop Firmino given the form he’s in? Klopp will be reluctant to ‘rest’ Mo Salah too despite his quiet start to the term, so the only other question mark is on the left flank – Dias’ second-half cameo against Brighton perhaps enough to get him the nod over Diogo Jota.
The disparity between Rangers’ domestic and continental form is evidence of the difficulties that face Scottish clubs in European competition.
The Gers are hot on Celtic’s heels in the Scottish Premiership, winning six of their opening games and scoring more than two goals per 90 minutes, on average.
However, in the Champions League so far they have been trounced by Napoli (0-3) and Ajax (0-4). Liverpool will be hoping to dish out similar treatment on Tuesday evening.
Liverpool vs Rangers Betting Tips
Champions League games can be hard to bet on – there’s little in the way of frame of reference when two teams from different countries meet, but here we have a clear formula for what to expect.
Rangers will find it hard to score at this level, and for all Liverpool’s defensive foibles surely they will be eyeing a clean sheet in this encounter.
They’ll be looking to put a few goals on the board too, so Liverpool to win to nil at 10/11 or Liverpool with a -2 Asian handicap at 8/13 are both fair game.
The anytime goalscorer market once again pitches Firmino as a possible, rather than probable goalscorer, so we can back him at 11/10 to continue his fine domestic form against a lower grade of opposition here.