It is fair to say that both these teams have struggled in Europe’s premier cup competition this year, Liverpool were humiliated in Naples with one of the most lacklustre displays ever put in by the Merseysiders, before finding redemption with a comeback win over visiting Ajax. Rangers have fared even worse, suffering successive heavy defeats away in Amsterdam and at home to Napoli.
That these two teams were beaten finalists last term (Liverpool [Champions League]; Rangers [Europa League]), illustrates the strength of the competition and that reputation means nothing. If you don’t perform on the night, you can expect a pasting.
The side distraction of this being the first competitive meeting between two of England and Scotland’s biggest teams has been made largely irrelevant by their desire to inject some momentum back into their chances of getting out of Group A. Perhaps that is a shame; two historic clubs with 130 years of coexistence prioritising the lucre of the Champions League over what ought to be a showcase of the best elements of what football means to the fans north and south of the border.
Tactically and, given their position at the bottom of the group, it is difficult to see Rangers playing a typical European away. Do they have the tools to sit back and repulse Liverpool attacks? Probably not. Do they have the players capable of unsettling an uncharacteristically porous Liverpool defence? On current form, you would have to say, yes.
This is not the home win certainty that many foresaw when the draw was made.
Liverpool v Rangers – Tuesday from 6.30pm on BT Sport (kick-off 8.00pm).