Liverpool lack a little "Je ne sais quoi" for French battle
Liverpool face a daunting away trip to France to take on Lyon in what could be one of the most important games of Rafael Benitez's managerial career in which they are 19/10 to get the win they so desperately need.
No matter what critics have aimed at Benitez during his Liverpool reign, his European record stands up to close inspection but it is at risk of being tarnished with a failure to make it out of the group stages for the first time and 7/5 chances Lyon are who they must defeat.
A loss for Liverpool coupled with a win for Fiorentina against Debrecen, would leave the Reds having to win both their last games and beat the Italian side by three goals or more - a though task and as a result even a draw at 23/10 will not suffice.
There are statistics in Liverpool's favour but due to the makeup of their squad, previous form, like the Reds having only lost three of nine games with French sides, and how they have never lost three in a row in the Champions League, go out the window, and Liverpool have been goal shy so far, and a home team clean sheet is 7/4.
At Anfield, Liverpool took the lead only to blow it near the end and there could be a tidy profit to be made from backing Lyon to come from behind and win again at odds of 9/1, while Liverpool are 11/1 to pull of the same coup.
With Lyon's form being patchy at best many may feel that the 19/10 is a price worth taking about a team who are proven time and again in Europe, but the Reds are without a host of players, including Steven Gerrard, Albert Riera, Martin Skrtel, Glen Johnson and although Fernando Torres has travelled he is doubtful.
Should 'El Nino' start then he will be popular at 11/2 to score first, while David Ngog is 15/2, but Liverpool's midfield may be relied upon heavily so Dirk Kuyt and Yossi Benayoun will need to find their scoring boots at 8/1 and 9/1 respectively to get the opening goal.
Maxime Gonalons (20/1 for first goal) and Cesar Delgado (9/1) were the pair who netted against Liverpool in the last game, and interestingly Lyon are joint top in scoring from set-pieces which means Liverpool's makeshift defence will need to be wary from corners and free kicks, and lethal striker Lisandro Lopez could be the one to punish them at odds of 5/1.
A 2-1 score line in favour of the home side again could be popular at 8/1, while 1-0 is 11/2 and 1-0 to Liverpool is 13/2, 2-0 10/1 and 2-1 8/1, and it is hard to see it being much more than the odd goal that takes this due to the pressure involved and the even look of the sides.
As a result, a draw could be the best option with 1-1 11/2 and 2-2 at 14/1, while a goalless draw can be backed at odds of 7/1.
This is crunch time for Liverpool Champions League wise and they are coming perilously close to being dumped out before the knockout stages for the first time under Benitez.
We have seen time and again though Liverpool coming good in the face of adversity as they did against Man Utd recently and have done in the past but with so many players out it looks a big ask to win and hard fought draw may be the best they can hope for which will still leave them with a lot to do and Rafa with a whole lot more to worry about.
Draw - 23/10