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Liverpool v Genk: Fabinho could return for Champions League game

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Liverpool are six points clear at the top of the Premier League but are in second place in Champions League Group E

Midfielder Fabinho could return to the Liverpool line-up for Tuesday’s Champions League game against Genk.

The Brazilian was an unused substitute for the 2-1 win at Aston Villa on Saturday, with manager Jurgen Klopp knowing a booking would have ruled the 26-year-old out of Sunday’s key league game against Manchester City.

Jordan Henderson might be rested, with James Milner a contender to start.

A Reds win could take them to within a point of qualification from Group E.

Liverpool beat the Belgians 4-1 on 23 October, with two goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and a strike apiece from Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah.

Italian side Napoli are top of the group, a point above the Reds at the halfway stage, and Carlo Ancelotti’s side will qualify for the last 16 if they beat Red Bull Salzburg and Genk fail to win at Anfield.

Questions in Klopp’s pre-match news conference centred around Manchester City, after their manager Pep Guardiola suggested at the weekend Reds players “sometimes” dive to win penalties.

Klopp dismissed the comments and said he was “not in the mood to talk about Manchester City”.

The German said Sunday’s top-of-the-table meeting between the teams in the Premier League will not deflect attention from the visit of Genk.

“The story the boys wrote in the past three years was only possible because we were always focused on the next game,” said Klopp.

“No-one thinks, and I don’t have to tell them, ‘City is on Sunday, tomorrow is Genk’.

“We have bigger ambitions in this competition than Tuesday night so we have to be 100% spot on.

“I don’t doubt my players at all. I would feel a bit embarrassed if I had to tell them ‘don’t think about Man City already’.”

The omens for Genk’s trip to Anfield are not promising. They have conceded five goals in each of their past three Champions League away games, the first team to record such an unwanted sequence since 1992-93.

Liverpool have scored four goals in their past two Champions League matches and only three teams have scored four times in three consecutive games (Liverpool in December 2007, Paris St-Germain in November 2017 and Real Madrid in September 2014).

Match stats

  • Genk’s only away European visit to England was in October 2011, when they were beaten 5-0 at Stamford Bridge against Chelsea in the Champions League group stages.
  • In all European competition, Liverpool are unbeaten in 23 games at Anfield (W17 D6 L0) since losing 3-0 to Real Madrid in October 2014 in the Champions League.
  • Genk have played more matches in the history of the European Cup/Champions League without winning than any other club (15 – W0 D8 L7), with their 4-1 loss to Liverpool in October taking them ahead of Floriana FC and Shamrock Rovers, who both have 14 winless games.
  • Since the start of the 2017-18 season, the only player involved in more Champions League goals than Liverpool duo Roberto Firmino (14 goals, 11 assists) and Salah (18 goals, seven assists) is Cristiano Ronaldo (22 goals, five assists).
  • Since the start of the 2017-18 season, Barcelona’s Marc-Andre ter Stegen (12) is the only goalkeeper to keep more clean sheets in the Champions League than Liverpool’s Alisson (11 – six for Liverpool and five for Roma).
  • Klopp has lost just two of his 19 home group stage matches in the Champions League (W14 D3 L2), with his last such defeat coming against Arsenal while in charge of Borussia Dortmund in November 2013 (P11 W9 D2 L0 since).

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