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Liverpool predicted line-up v. Besiktas

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Liverpool will look to cement their place in the Europa League last 16 when they meet Besiktas in Istanbul on Thursday.

The Reds continued their excellent form last Sunday with a 2-0 win against Southampton at St Mary's and moved within two points of the top-four in the Premier League.

Campaign

After a disappointing campaign in the Champions League earlier in the season, Liverpool have luckily had a second bite at the cherry in the Europa League. Brendan Rodgers has stated throughout this term that his aim come May is to add a piece of silverware to the Anfield trophy cabinet and will be desperate to pick up a win in Turkey.

Last week, the two sides met in Merseyside and a late Mario Balotelli penalty gave Liverpool a 1-0 win going into the second-leg. 

It may be slim, but Rodgers' side have a precious lead and it makes for an intriguing clash. If the Reds can force an early goal, it means Besiktas have to net three to get through to the next round and judging by the circumstances, that will be the tactic going into the game.

Can Into Midfield

This week it emerged that Jordan Henderson will miss Thursday's clash due to injury. Add that to the side-lined Steven Gerrard and Lucas and Liverpool's options are looking slim in the middle of the park.

Joe Allen has been in Rodgers' starting line-up in the last few weeks and there seems no reason why he won't play from the final whistle.

Emre Can is a centre-midfielder by trade however he has been used primarily as a centre-back in his six month Anfield career. 

The German has been fantastic playing in the defence and has become a cult hero at the Merseyside club. He is strong in the tackle and uses the ball well and has looked a midfielder in every aspect.

When Can started in the centre-of-midfield against Chelsea earlier this season, he was fantastic in the first-half. He bossed the midfield creating chances for his side and gave his side the opening goal in the match.

The former Bayer Leverkusen man has stated that he prefers to play in midfield but does not mind playing in a deeper role for the good of the team. However, this is his chance to cement a place in his favoured position.

Early Goal From Sturridge

As aforementioned, an early goal will be massive for Liverpool. If they can strike within the first ten minutes of the match then it puts Besiktas under serious pressure and the away side can happily sit back and defend as the Turkish outfit have to score three goals.

Daniel Sturridge is Rodgers' main striker and was rested during Sunday's game against Southampton likely to be prepared for this game. He was desperate to score at St. Mary's when he came on as a substitute and will be the exact same on Thursday.

Sturridge loves nothing more than scoring goals and his first European goal for Liverpool could be vital.

Another Wonder-Strike From Coutinho

After being told to score more goals from his manager at the turn of the year, Philippe Coutinho has certainly answered. His strike against Southampton from 25-yards out was sublime, leaving Fraser Forster with absolutely no chance.

Not only that but the Brazilian has serious ability when playing people in. Coutinho is a magician when he has the ball at his feet and was one of Liverpool's best players at St. Mary's as he looked to make things happen constantly for his side.

Raheem Sterling started as a striker last Sunday however will likely drop deeper and play as a number ten. The 20-year-old enjoys playing further back as it allows him to run at defenders with pace and purpose.

Ibe To Thrive

Jordan Ibe has been excellent since he returned from his loan spell at Derby County and become a regular within Rodgers' side. The youngster performed in the first-leg in the tie wide on the right and was responsible for winning the penalty that gave Liverpool the win.

Lazar Markovic is facing his second game of his four match European suspension for his red card against FC Basel in December so Alberto Moreno will start at left wing-back. The Spaniard made the difference when he replaced Markovic at half-time against Southampton, keeping more width and being much more sensible defensively. 

If the Reds are to get an early goal, keeping solidarity at the back is a must and that is just what Moreno can do.

Toure To Return

Kolo Toure was a regular in the Liverpool defence before he left for the African Cup Of Nations with the Ivory Coast. His country snatched the tournament and Toure now looks to regain his place in Rodgers' line-up.

With Can moving into midfield, the former Arsenal man will have a chance to prove his credentials against the side he almost left for last summer. With Mamadou Sakho still injured, Dejan Lovren will once again play from the first whistle. 

After a long spell out of Rodgers' side, Lovren finally was recalled last Sunday to meet his former club. It wasn't the most complete effort from the Croat who gave the ball away far too often in the early stages but did grow into the game as the clock ticked.

Martin Skrtel was excellent against the Saints and he will be looking to keep Demba Ba quiet. Skrtel will likely take the captain's armband for the game and will be looking to lead his side as he did last weekend. Simon Mignolet made several smart stops against Southampton and Besiktas and his confidence is a lot higher than earlier this term. 

With a new defence ahead of him, the Belgian will have to adapt and take responsibility into his own hand's a lot of the time.

Starting XI

Mignolet; Lovren, Skrtel, Toure; Ibe, Allen, Can, Moreno; Sterling, Coutinho; Sturridge

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Topics:
Football
Premier League
Liverpool
Europa League

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