After last week's goalless first leg, UEFA.com's Daniel Thacker is expecting another fascinating tactical tussle as Liverpool look to pip Augsburg to a place in the last 16.
Article top media content
There is still everything to play for on Thursday when Liverpool resume their UEFA Europa League tussle with Augsburg after last week's goalless first leg. With a round of 16 place at stake, UEFA.com's Daniel Thacker explores the key areas where the Anfield decider will be settled.
Liverpool's chance conversion
Scoring goals has been a problem for Liverpool all campaign, with the Reds netting just six times in seven UEFA Europa League outings. Jürgen Klopp's side mustered 14 attempts at the Augsburg Arena – including excellent openings for Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge and Roberto Firmino – but familiar wastefulness returned to haunt them.
"I think we created enough chances to score," Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet told UEFA.com. "Unfortunately the end product didn't happen. It's difficult to create chances [against German teams], but then the small chances you get, you need to capitalise on." Augsburg will be well organised again on Thursday, so the hosts will need to grab any opportunities that arise.
German tactical battle
With German football hailed in recent years for 'gegenpressing' and an innovative approach to counterattacking, one of the more fascinating subplots to the first game was the battle of wits between Klopp and his Augsburg counterpart Markus Weinzierl. The latter's side produced a sophisticated display, inviting Liverpool forward before time and again attempting to break quickly and directly.
Such a performance required superb defensive concentration from Augsburg, and, a former defender himself, Klopp will recognise the difficulty of sustaining that focus over two legs. It will be worth keeping an eye on the chess match between the men on the touchline.
Augsburg's attacking impetus
An early goal for Augsburg at Anfield would give the visitors real hope of extending their debut European campaign into March, at least. "We kept a clean sheet, which is very important because we could now qualify for the next round with one goal in Liverpool," said midfielder Markus Feulner.
The problem could be where that goal comes from. The Bundesliga outfit started well on home turf yet struggled going forward after the early injury withdrawal of Raúl Bobadilla, the UEFA Europa League's joint-top scorer in the group stage. Weinzierl will be praying the Paraguayan international is fit enough to feature on Merseyside.
The Anfield factor
While the Augsburg Arena was in fine voice for its maiden knockout tie, Liverpool's home ground has a long and proud history of staging high-stakes continental encounters. When Liverpool bid to reach the round of 16 on Thursday, the stadium's European-night atmosphere could prove critical once again.
"Of course the atmosphere at Anfield is going to be important," Liverpool defender Alberto Moreno told UEFA.com. "We'll have our fans behind us for the 90 minutes. They're going to be key, so we can go out focused and make sure that we win."