As a precursor to their Europa League final date with Sevilla, Liverpool must visit West Bromwich Albion, where it’s anticipated they’ll field a weakened team with Wednesday’s showpiece in mind.
Having selected a near-full strength side to play Chelsea in their penultimate Premier League game of the campaign, it’s highly unlikely Jurgen Klopp will thrust the same troops into battle once more with such an important game on the horizon and, as a result, West Brom have been made 6/4 favourites.
Defeat at The Hawthorns may not seem to matter much – there’s the prospect of cementing Europa League football next season through their league placing with a win, but that’s it – but if the Reds intend on winning the continent’s consolation competition and nabbing a place in the 2016/17 Champions League, it looks as though they’ll require a one-goal win this afternoon.
They’re 8/5 to prevail by any scoreline, while it’s 13/10 the game is settled by a solitary strike in favour of either team.
If Liverpool want to give themselves the best chance of success in Switzerland next week, they need to make sure they’re one goal to the good when proceedings are halted at West Brom.
Each of the previous four teams to lift the Europa League – Sevilla twice, Chelsea and Atletico Madrid – did so having been involved in fixtures decided by one goal prior to the final.
Three of them won, while the 2013/14 Sevilla side lost. However, this particular Rojiblancos outfit wasn’t able to prevail against Benfica a few days after the defeat in regulation time. They required the lottery on penalties after being held to a goalless draw.
Porto won the competition in 2010/11 having overcome their pre-final foes 2-0. They succeeded 2009/10 champs Atletico, who had drawn their showpiece sharpener. Again, Los Colchoneros came perilously close to a last hurdle disaster having failed to win in the league game that fell before. They drew 1-1 with huge underdogs Fulham in normal time, eventually running out 2-1 winners after an additional half hour.