Liverpool goes to Portugal to take on Sporting Braga in the first leg of their last 16 Clash in the Europa League.
by Rhydon Atzenhoffer
March 9, 2011
|Kuyt has Scored 4 goals in his Last Two Games|
Braga also experienced an energizing victory as they defeated Portuguese Liga's 2nd place club Benfica at home to continue their chase for a Europa League spot for next season. Both Liverpool and Braga find themselves in sixth position in their respected leagues table. If Liverpool's chances of Champions League football are looking bleak for next season's Braga's outlook is a no chance verdict.
The English Side sits 9 points down from the 4th place Champions League Qualification spot currently held by Chelsea on 51 points. Braga on the other hand sits 20 points back from the 2nd place Champions League spot in their country after having finished 2nd last season. It is truly a European clash of teams fitted for a chance of a rematch next season as well.
|Braga's Municipal Stadium Will be a Cauldron|
Liverpool was dealt another injury blow in their defense this weekend as Fabio Aurelio joins Martin Kelly on the sidelines for a month with a hamstring injury. This makes way for Danny Wilson to possibly fit back into the Europa League spot and will more than likely see Daniel Agger as a Left back the next time the Reds have a run out in the English Premiership against Sunderland at the Stadium of Light on March 20th.
It was also reported that Steven Gerrard is not making the trip either as he continues to struggle with a nagging injury so either Jaime Carragher or Pepe Reina will be deputized as Captain for the match. The good news for the Merseyside club will be a weekend of rest with the team having already been dumped out of the FA Cup which continues this weekend.
|David N'gog Set to Lead Liverpool's Europa Line|
With Luis Suarez Cup tied, for his games at Ajax, Andy Carroll is expected to make his European debut for the Reds. Some believe he will be a starter but I believe Kenny Dalglish will look to protect his young striker as he returns to form just as he did with Luis Suarez. Given a home debut in a victory, and then used as a substitute on several occasions before throwing him head first into a starting role. I see Carroll taking a subs role behind David N'Gog who is Liverpool's leading scorer in the competition.
A victory for the Reds would be ideal and more than likely allow them to finish of the tie at Anfield with ease for a great St. Patrick's Day present to the club and fans which would book them a place in the last 8. Liverpool also hold the luxury of having won this version of the European Cup on three other occasions making them the most successful club in the competition remaining in the hunt.
Predicted Line-Ups for the Tie
Braga Possible Starting XI: Artur; Miguel Garcia, Kaka, Rodriguez, Silvio; Hugo Viana, Custodio, Vinicius, Alan; Lima, Ukra.
Liverpool Possible Starting XI: Reina; Johnson, Carragher, Kyrgiakos, Wilson; Poulsen, Lucas, Cole, Miereles, Kuyt; N'Gog.
Liverpool Subs: Carroll, Maxi, Skrtel, Jovanovic, Pacheco, Spearing, Gulacsi.