11 months after leaving a team he had done everything he could with, Jurgen Klopp returns to Dortmund on Thursday with his Liverpool side that will hope to win this outright because it’s the only chance they’ve got of making the Champions League.
What a pity it is then, that they weren’t able to draw a weaker team. Perhaps a team that didn’t demolish the title challengers in England twice. While it won’t be a demolition job, expect plenty of goals on Thursday
Dortmund finished 33 points off Bayern Munich last season in the Bundesliga in Klopp’s swansong. His replacement Thomas Tuchel chopped and changed the squad and now has them sitting five points off Munich at the top of the table at time of writing.
Clearly, he is trying to repeat Klopp’s ethics of young, fast and counter attacking football based around a targetman. For Klopp it was Robert Lewandowski, for Tuchel it’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. The Gabonese striker has 32 goals this season – 7 of which have come in the Europa League. Only 11 goals conceded in 14 matches in the competition so far shows why Dortmund are deservedly favourites to win it outright.
The defensive stats of his former team should worry Jurgen, but we’re not even sure he has any other emotions bar delirious or apoplectic (great word). He’s kind of like a Care Bear for the kids that just want to punch things all the time.
But he’ll know well that Liverpool have created more chances in their last nine games than anyone in the Premier League, Coutinho’s scored in back to back games and is in form alongside the fact that he’s got a fully-rested Roberto Firmino raring to get at the Yellow Wall. Is that where Dorothy and the Tin Man ended up at the end of the Yellow Brick Road? How much better a story would that have been!
The highlight of this game is obviously going to be
a full stadium belting out You’ll Never Walk Alone the reactions on the sidelines of two passionate managers. There’ll be tears from Klopp, laughter at Martin Skrtel and plenty of sweat.
Dortmund have scored 39 times at home this season with Liverpool netting 26 times away from Anfield, both are averaging just under 2 per game. Considering they both warmed up with good results on Saturday and Sunday it’s looking like this one will have plenty of goals.
Our main tip is for over 3.5 goals. Yes, we know it’s the first leg and usually the away teams like to keep it tight. But this is Jurgen Klopp. He’s madder than a fridge full of dogs. If we had to pick a score, go for 2-2 at odds of .
Our traders are so confident that Dortmund will win that Liverpool are at odds of. In the goalscoring markets, there’s a bit of value for Aubameyang and Marco Reus (who could well end up at Anfield next season). Given his form, Coutinho is a surprising to open the scoring.
We’ll soon find out if the Europa League is either the best trophy around or a piece of tin that big clubs don’t really want.