Liverpool lineup vs LASK: Our top three – Liverpool find themselves in an unfamiliar position, namely the Europa League. And to kick their 2023/24 campaign off, they have an away encounter with Austrian Bundesliga side Linz ASK to tend to. However, it may prove to be a lucky omen, with the Reds having kicked off their ultimately triumphant 2004/05 UCL campaign on Austrian turf in a qualifier against Grazer AK.
The six-time European champions' status as competition favourites means that it will be imperative for Jurgen Klopp and his staff to continue translating their winning ways from the Premier League into midweek European action. Yet, the temptation of heavy rotation could be a thorn in the German tactician’s blueprint, depending on how LASK approach this all-important test against a world-famous opponent.
Current Liverpool stats – Can the Reds make it five wins on the trot?
Klopp’s outfit have recaptured their Premier League groove since the new campaign got underway, accruing 13 points from a possible 15. Having only dropped points on the opening weekend in a 1-1 draw against Chelsea, the Reds have since enjoyed a four-game win streak, with their latest coming against Wolves in what was eventually a comfortable 3-1 triumph from behind.
Their chances of increasing that run to five games seems relatively promising, given the lesser-known nature of their Austrian opposition. Admittedly, the pair have never met before, but Liverpool’s superior goalscoring rate in the 2023/24 season – 2.4 per 90 vs 1.57 per 90 (as seen on FotMob) – makes their status as favourites all the more secure looking.
Liverpool lineup vs LASK – Our top three
With a tough weekend clash against fellow UEL participants West Ham looming, that might well be enough for Klopp to give minutes to those not typically on the team sheet. But some key personnel will, as ever, practically pick themselves.
The 89-cap Egyptian will be a catalyst for Klopp and his entourage, should their side see success upon their return to Europe’s second tier. Interestingly, Salah has assisted twice as much as he has scored in the Premier League this term.
Alongside this, his 2.4 key passes – the highest of any Liverpool player according to WhoScored – shows he is willing to spruce his teammates into an attack, though he will have Felix Luckender as a personal opponent. Luckender plays on the left side of LASK’s defence either in a four or a three, and will attempt to nullify his speed and tricky feet.
Just two years Salah's junior, Luckender also won 3/3 of his ground duels in his previous match, and has been given an overall matching rating of 7.49 across LASK’s opening five games in the league, per FotMob. The seasoned Egyptian, however, is likely to come out on top, however, thanks to his willingness to create for teammates.
Alexis Mac Allister
Despite being known for his creative flair in Brighton & Hove Albion colours, the Argentine can also be defensively astute when called upon. Across five domestic outings, he has registered a club-best 2.6 tackles per 90 – per WhoScored – and will be able to nullify any midfield progression LASK try to achieve.
Jurgen Klopp’s midfield underwent a massive re-shuffle during the summer transfer window, and the former Brighton man, who was the club’s first signing of the summer, has played the fifth-most minutes so far. Mac Allister also has surprisingly strong defending attributes.
Up against him, Sascha Horvarth is expected to act as the fulcrum of the LASK midfield, and will be on call to alleviate any forward passes that Mac Allister attempts, as Klopp’s fluid front three attempt to bamboozle the back line.
The 27-year-old Austrian has picked up two assists so far this campaign and Mac Allister will have to tend to his defensive duties to prevent putting his back line under the cosh. They often say games are won in midfield, and this could really be an intense personal battle.
Coming off the back of a strong full debut in the famous Liverpool strip, centre-back Jarell Quansah could be given another opportunity to prove his worth, despite being just 20 years of age. Ibrahima Konate’s thigh concern could leave the door ajar for the 2003-born Englishman to add some senior European minutes to his CV.
Despite playing just 115 minutes of senior football thus far, Quansah put up some impressive defensive numbers; 1.3 tackles, 0.7 interceptions, and 2 clearances per 90, according to WhoScored. He’ll have the task of keeping their centre-forward(s) under wraps as they look to produce a statement win against the European behemoths.
LASK tend to alter their striker department from game to game, alternating between a two-player partnership and a solitary man up top. However, for a game of this magnitude, it is likely to be their leading goal scorer Robert Zulj (pictured below) leading the line for them. But Quansah, given his athleticism, should be the winner of this particular duel all the same.
The Final Word
Liverpool have become accustomed to rubbing shoulders with football’s elite in the Champions League, though a routine win in their Europa League curtain-raiser would be a real statement of intent. Klopp will understand that he and his roster of stars will have every chance of progressing far in the competition, as long as they are able to start on the right foot.
After a turgid 2022/23 on all fronts, tasting silverware once again would be a fantastic step to returning to European greatness. Although it would be a shock to the Reds’ system should they fall at the hands of their opponents, Klopp has enough talent at his disposal to get the job done in their remaining group stage fixtures, regardless of Thursday's outcome.