‘For the club, Belgrade, Serbia and the whole region’

A fortnight ago they were humbled 4-0 by Jurgen Klopp’s side in a poor performance at Anfield and defeat on Tuesday, coupled with a win for Napoli against Paris St-Germain, would eliminate them from the competition. Red Star Belgrade coach Vladan Milojevic believes his team are playing for the pride of Serbia at home to Liverpool in the Champions League.

“For the club, Belgrade, Serbia and the whole region, tomorrow is an important occasion, and we are looking forward to a spectacle. We will try to make the best of the game,” Milojevic said. “One of the best teams in Europe and the world comes to us. I think it will be a real spectacle in the stadium and an atmosphere awaits us that only our fans can create.”

Milojevic hopes home advantage will assist his side, after playing two away matches in which their supporters were banned from attending by Uefa after incidents of pitch invasions and the setting off of fireworks.

Liverpool

“We know that we did not have the support of our fans for the previous two matches,” he added. “Everyone knows what it means to play at the Marakana (as the stadium is known locally), no-one feels comfortable with it, and it puts wind in our sails, because the atmosphere is much different than at other stadiums.

“We get extra energy from the stands, and although this may not have much impact on the Liverpool players, I believe that this will be a fascinating atmosphere for them.

Liverpool are a favourite, no matter what. They are one of the main contenders to win the Champions League; the team is made to attack for the title. “We need to be concentrated all the time, because every pause and the smallest little thing is immediately punished.”

‘Liverpool favourites to win the group’

Simon Gleave, head of sports analysis, Gracenote:

“Liverpool’s comfortable win on matchday 3 against Red Star Belgrade, coupled with the draw between Napoli and Paris Saint-Germain has put the Reds into pole position in Group C. Liverpool are now favourites to win the group (40%) and of course to progress (73%) according to the Euro Club Index.

“However, there is no room for error with group rivals Napoli and PSG both above 50% chance of going through. With Liverpool’s rivals playing each other, a win in Serbia for Liverpool this week will almost put the Reds into the knockout phase.”

MATCH FACTS

Head-to-head

  • Red Star Belgrade have won two of their three games against Liverpool in European competition, however did lose the most recent meeting (0-4 at Anfield).
  • This will be Liverpool’s first away game against Red Star Belgrade in European competition since October 1973, when they lost 2-1 in the first leg of a last-16 tie in the European Cup.

Red Star Belgrade

  • Red Star Belgrade are without a win in their past five games in European competition (D3 L2), conceding 10 goals in losing the past two (1-6 v Paris St-Germain and 0-4 v Liverpool).
  • They have suffered just one defeat in their past 14 home games in European competition (W7 D6).
  • Red Star Belgrade have conceded just five goals in their past 14 home games in European competition, keeping nine clean sheets in this run.
  • They have, however, conceded the most goals (10), faced the most shots (75) and most shots on target (36) of any team in the Champions League this season.

Liverpool

  • Liverpool have lost one of their past 11 Champions League group-stage games (W5 D5), scoring 33 goals during this run (an average of three per game).
  • They have scored 48 goals in the Champions League since the start of last season (16 games), the most of any team in the competition during that time.
  • Since the start of last season, Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has been involved in 19 goals in the Champions League (12 goals and seven assists); the most of any player in the competition.
  • Sadio Mane has scored 11 goals in his past 12 appearances for Liverpool in the Champions League, with the most recent of those coming against Red Star Belgrade in a 4-0 win on 24 October.

Source: BBC News