Liverpool FC vs. BSC Young Boys
Europa League, Anfield
Thursday, Nov. 22, 2012, 9:05 p.m. CET / 3:05 p.m. ET
Liverpool could take a stride forward in their quest to qualify from the Europa League group stages with a win over Swiss side BSC Young Boys at Anfield Thursday.
With a recent upturn in English Premier League form, Brendan Rodgers knows that securing the three points on Thursday is crucial for his season, while Young Boys, in theory, have nothing to lose from a strong Group A.
Currently tied in second place with six points each, just one behind group-toppers FC Anzhi Makhachkala, Liverpool and Young Boys could see their fortunes differ drastically if the Reds do win at home.
The other upcoming fixture in Group A is Anzhi Makhachkala vs. Udinese Calcio, who hold seven and four points respectively from four games played.
If Liverpool get the three points on Thursday, any result for Anzhi other than a win would put them at most in second place and put the Reds in the driving seat for qualification.
A Liverpool win along with an Udinese lose would automatically eliminate Young Boys from the competition altogether.
Udinese would have to pull off two wins in a row against Anzhi and Liverpool to have any hope of qualification.
As things stand, Anzhi are Liverpool’s main rivals for qualification from a strong Europa League group, but the overall picture could be very different after this penultimate round of fixtures.
Since a controversial home defeat to Manchester United in late September, Liverpool have embarked on a seven-game unbeaten run in the Premier League, notching 13 goals and taking home 12 points in the process, and the Reds find themselves 11th in the league table.
With 15 games played in the Swiss Super League, Young Boys are currently fifth with 18 points, some 12 points away from the fourth place that would guarantee Europa League participation next season. Their recent Super League form in the same period is one win, three draws and three defeats.
Liverpool’s 5-3 away win over Young Boys on Sept. 20 featured an own goal from Juhani Ojala, a debut goal for Andre Wisdom, a Sebastian Coates header and a late match-winning brace from Jonjo Shelvey.
Raphael Nuzzolo, Ojala and Gonzalo Zarate got the goals for the home side then.
Players to Watch
With so much at stake in terms of Liverpool’s season, Brendan Rodgers will be tempted to field some of his first-team players at Anfield on Thursday, so expect Luis Suarez, the Premier League’s leading scorer, to feature.
Suarez has added goals to his game this season and is rapidly becoming one of Europe’s finest forwards, having scored 59 percent of Liverpool’s league goals this season.
Oussama Assaidi, who has turned in several encouraging performances in Europe already this season, will be itching to get another chance to perform on the continental stage, but Steven Gerrard may well be rested in favor of more game time for the likes of Shelvey and Jordan Henderson.
On Young Boys’ side, striker Raul Bobadilla has scored four goals and is one shy of the competition’s leading goal scorer, Edinson Cavani of SSC Napoli.
Raphael Nuzzolo has notched two, while the aforementioned Ojala will be well-known on both sides of the pitch due to his goal-own-goal double haul in the reverse fixture in September.
With a Liverpool side hungry to get their Europa League campaign back on track, a stronger starting lineup will prove too much for Young Boys.
Liverpool to secure a 2-0 home win.
Also check out: Suarez’s 10 Greatest Liverpool Moments