Liverpool and Rangers set for historic battle of Britain, Barca face Inter – Champions League in Opta numbers

By Sports Desk October 04, 2022

Liverpool face Rangers in a battle of Britain and Barcelona will attempt to apply more pressure on Inter boss Simone Inzaghi with a Champions League victory on Tuesday.

An army of Gers fans will travel south of the border to descend on Merseyside for a Group A clash that will give them another opportunity to secure a first point, with the Reds in second spot behind Napoli.

Barca moved top of La Liga last weekend and Xavi's side will start their third Group C game level on points with out-of-sorts Inter after losing 2-0 to leaders Bayern Munich last month.

Bayern will be expected to maintain their 100 per cent record at the expense of Viktoria Plzen, and Serie A table-toppers Napoli travel to Ajax looking to continue their brilliant start to the season.

Ahead of another mouthwatering set of matches, Stats Perform trawls through the Opta data to highlight the most noteworthy facts for each contest.

Liverpool v Rangers

This will be the first European meeting between Liverpool and the Glasgow giants in a European competition.

The Gers have only won one of their seven away games in England, that being a 2-1 Champions League victory at Leeds United in November 1992 courtesy of goals from Mark Hateley and Ally McCoist. They have suffered six defeats and drawn twice.

Liverpool's last meeting with Scottish opponents in the European Cup was back in the 1980-81 campaign, winning 5-0 on aggregate against Alex Ferguson's Aberdeen (1-0 away, 4-0 home). The Reds went on to win the competition that year.

Jurgen Klopp's side have won 13 of their past 15 home Champions League group stage matches (D1 L1), scoring 36 goals in process. Their solitary defeat was against Atalanta in November 2020

Rangers have failed to score in their two group games so far. Indeed, only Plzen (2) and Sevilla (3) have had fewer shots on target than the Scottish club (4) in this season's first two matchdays.

Inter v Barcelona

Inter have won just two of their 14 European matches against Barcelona (D4 L8), a 2-1 victory in the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in January 1970 and 3-1 Champions League triumph in April 2010.

Barca's two away wins against the Nerazzurri came 60 years apart, winning 4-2 in the Fairs Cup in September 1959 and 2-1 in the Champions League in December 2019.

Inter have lost six UEFA Champions League matches against the Catalan giants, their most against a single opponent. Barca have only beaten Celtic (8) more times in the competition.

Barca have lost three of their past four away Champions League group stage matches (W1), as many as in their previous 25 matches on their travels in the competition (W15 D7). Xavi is only the second manager to lose his first two away Champions League matches in charge of Barcelona, along with Louis van Gaal in 1997.

Inter have lost their past two Champions League games at San Siro (0-2 v Liverpool and Bayern). Only once previously have they suffered three consecutive home defeats in the European Cup/UEFA Champions League (a run of three between February-September 2011).

Bayern Munich v Viktoria Plzen

Bayern have won all four of their European matches against Plzen, beating them twice in the 1971-72 Cup Winners' Cup and the Champions League in 2013-14.

Plzen's two away European matches against Bayern have seen them concede at least five goals on each occasion, losing 6-1 in September 1971 in the Cup Winners' Cup and 5-0 in the Champions League nine years ago.

Bayern are out to record three wins at the start of a Champions League campaign for a fourth consecutive season. In their opening three games in the previous three seasons and their two games this year, they have won all 11 matches by an aggregate score of 41-7.

Plzen have conceded seven goals in their two Champions League games this season and only kept one clean sheet in their 20 matches in the competition.

Leroy Sane has been directly involved in 14 goals in his past 11 Champions League starts for Bayern (8 goals, 6 assists). The winger could become only the second player to score in Bayern's first three Champions League games in a season, with Robert Lewandowski (in 2019-20 and 2021-22) being the other.

Ajax v Napoli

Napoli have never won away from home in the Netherlands (D2 L3) in any European competition.

Ajax have failed to win any of their past 11 home European matches against Italian opposition (D6 L5) since winning 2-1 against Roma in this competition in December 2002.

Napoli will be looking to win their first three Champions League group stage games for the first time. They are unbeaten in eight matches in the group stage of the competition (W5 D3).

Ajax have won their past four home games in the group stage of the Champions League, scoring four goals in each of the previous three (4-0 v Borussia Dortmund, 4-2 v Sporting CP and 4-0 v Rangers).

Napoli are the top scoring side in the Champions League this season with seven goals. Luciano Spalletti's side have had more shots (43) and shots on target (19) than any other team.

Other fixtures:

Marseille v Sporting CP

6 - Marseille have lost six of their eight European Cup/Champions League matches against Portuguese opponents (W1 D1).

16 - Marseille have lost 16 of their past 17 Champions League matches (W1), failing to score in 11 matches in this run, including both games this season.

Porto v Bayer Leverkusen

7 - Porto have won seven of their eight home Champions League games against German opposition (D1), winning five in a row.

2 - Leverkusen have only won two of their past 13 away matches in the Champions League (D5 L6), with three of the previous four ending in defeats without scoring.

Club Brugge v Atletico Madrid

3 - Brugge are unbeaten in all three home meetings with Atleti in European competition (W2 D1).

7 - Atleti have never won a European match against a Belgium club in seven attempts (five away, two neutral). They have played more major European games on Belgian soil without winning than in any other country.

Eintracht Frankfurt v Tottenham

4 - Tottenham have lost their past four Champions League matches against German opposition by an aggregate score of 14-3, losing twice to Bayern Munich (2-7 and 1-3) and twice to RB Leipzig (0-1 and 0-3).

3 - Eintracht have won three consecutive European games against English teams (one versus Arsenal, two v West Ham), as many as in their first 14.

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    Wednesday's game offers Bayer the chance to complete the second leg of an unbeaten treble. 

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    Their backline can expect to be tested on Wednesday, though, with Bayer's total of 232 shots in the Europa League this season the most by any team in a single edition since Chelsea tallied 247 in 2018-19.

    The coaches

    Fans can expect an intriguing tactical battle between two progressive coaches at the Aviva Stadium.

    Gasperini has overseen the most successful period in Atalanta's history since taking charge in 2016, though this will be his first European final as a manager. 

    At the age of 66 years and 117 days, he will become the oldest coach to take charge of his first major European final, and the oldest overall since Jupp Heynckes led Bayern Munich to glory in the 2013 Champions League final (68 years, 16 days).

    His counterpart Alonso – at the age of 42 years and 179 days – will be the youngest coach to manage a men's European final since Roberto Di Matteo oversaw Chelsea's memorable victory in the 2012 Champions League final at the age of 41 years and 356 days, beating Heynckes' Bayern.

    Having played for Liverpool in the 2005 and 2007 Champions League finals, Alonso will also become just the fourth person to play in and manage in a major European final this century.

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    Players to watch

    The likes of Alejandro Grimaldo, Victor Boniface, Granit Xhaka and Robert Andrich have played crucial roles for Bayer this season, but their key man is undoubtedly Florian Wirtz, who was named Bundesliga Player of the Year on Monday.

    Wirtz scored 11 goals and provided 11 assists throughout Bayer's triumphant Bundesliga campaign, also recording eight goal involvements (four goals, four assists) in the Europa League this term – the most of any Leverkusen player.

    Meanwhile, his total of 28 open-play chances created in the 2023-24 competition has only previously been bettered by five players in a single edition, most recently Amin Younes for Ajax in 2016-17 (30).

    For Atalanta, all eyes will be on Scamacca, who scored outstanding goals against Liverpool and Marseille in the last two rounds.

    The former West Ham striker has six goals in the Europa League this season, a tally only previously bettered by two Italian players in a single edition. Giuseppe Rossi netted 10 times for Villarreal in the 2010-11 tournament, while Ciro Immobile scored eight for Lazio in 2017-18.

    Prediction 

    Leverkusen enter Wednesday's game as favourites, with the Opta supercomputer rating their chances of victory within 90 minutes at 50.2 per cent.

    Atalanta, however, should not be ruled out, having won seven of their nine matches since losing 1-0 in the second leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie against Liverpool (one draw, one defeat).

    They are assigned a 24.4 per cent chance of victory, with 25.4 per cent of the supercomputer's match simulations finishing level, which would mean extra time and potentially penalties. 

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