Liverpool meet Leipzig … in Budapest. Might sound like your gap year inter-rail trip but it’s actually Champions League knock-out stage football in the Covid-19 era – and what a way to kick things off!
Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost three games in a row. Five in seven. Six in 10. Whichever way you cut the stats it makes for an extraordinarily grim run, given where they’ve come from, and you sense they need the kind of result that puts things back on an even keel. It’s a big week for them, this, with Everton coming up on Saturday – so a positive first-leg outcome against last season’s surprise semi-finalists would be very good indeed.
But boy, they’ll be made to work for that! While most of us are old enough to remember when Klopp was German football’s next big thing, the sickeningly young Julian Nagelsmann – all 33 years of him – has that mantle now. His side are second in the Bundesliga and ooze threat all over the pitch – and if anyone still isn’t sure, just look at the way they eliminated Manchester United and beat PSG in this season’s group stage. They’re beatable, as Borussia Dortmund proved when beating them 3-1 on their own turf last month. On current form, though, this one looks deliciously poised.
So let’s enjoy it! The fun officially starts at 8pm UK time, but really it starts *now* – get your emails, tweets, predictions and whatever else in.