As Liverpool FC prepare to face Bordeaux in their opening UEFA Europa League tie, we give you a lowdown on the teams in the Reds’ group.
Liverpool have been drawn in group B alongside Bordeaux, Swiss side FC Sion and Russian outfit Rubin Kazan. We pick the French side Liverpool FC are set to play as the first team in profile.
Bordeaux are based in the French town bearing the same name, one that is famous for its wine. The trip will be a short one for Liverpool FC with just 1000 km separating the two cities.
The French side, coached by the former France and Bayern Munich fullback Willy Sagnol, played two qualifying ties to reach the group stage. In the third qualifying round, they beat AEK Lamaca of Cyprus 4-0 over two legs, and beat FC Kairat Almaty in the play-offs on away goals after the aggregate scoreline ended in a 2-2 stalemate.
Bordeaux finished sixth in the league last season and are not in the best of form currently, with only one win in five games. They find themselves 12th in the table, although their significant injury problems at the moment go some way towards explaining their start. They did hold PSG to a draw at the weekend, however, indicating their ability to dig in and be hard to beat.
FC Sion is based in the Swiss town of of Sion. The Reds will not be looking forward to the trip to cold Switzerland in December, when they are due to face the Swiss side. They are currently third in the league table, but already 10 points adrift of first place FC Basel after eight games.
Sion are playing in the Europa League for the first time, having finished a lowly seventh in the Swiss League, but still managed to come through the qualifiers, into the group stage.
Liverpool FC have faced the Swiss outfit once before. They recorded an 8-4 win over two legs against them in the European Cup Winners’ Cup second round in 1996-97, winning 2-1 in Switzerland and 6-3 at Anfield. The Reds will be hoping for more of the same when they face them almost twenty years on.
Not the draw Liverpool FC would have been looking forward to. Kazan is more than 4100 miles away from Anfield, and the long trip in cold November to Russia and back is sure to exhaust a few players.
Kazan are currently in poor form, having lost six of their eight games in the league and sit just two points and four places above the last placed team in the Russian League.
The side, based in Kazan arena, famously beat defending European Champions FC Barcelona 2-1 in the Camp Nou. How times have changed. They now had to overcome Sturm Graz of Austria 4-3 over two legs in the third qualifying round, and then secured a place in the Europa League group stage with a 2-1 aggregate victory over Macedonian side FK Rabotnicki.
Everton’s Russian winger Diniyar Bilyaletdinov currently plays for Rubin and will hope to get one over his former club’s rivals while his father, Rinat, is the manager for the struggling Russian league side.
Overview: The group does not appear to be hard if Liverpool FC can get even their second string side to perform at their best. Easier said than done though, given that such situations can lead to motivational issues. The Kazan tie in particular can be very testing given the long journey the Reds will have to undertake to play the Russian side.
Given the first team’s form currently, there should be enough motivation for the second string side to play to their potential. Regardless, there will simply be no excuses for Liverpool FC if they get anything but the top spot from this group.