Liverpool v Crvena Zvezda Wednesday October 24, 20:00 Live on BT Sport 2
Liverpool going through a sticky patch
The last four games have allowed us to see a very different Liverpool to the swash-buckling one we're so used to. Nor have the results been anything to write home about. A 1-1 away draw at Chelsea was fine, a 1-0 defeat away at Napoli a body blow, that 0-0 at home to Man City was actually a dodged bullet given Riyad Mahrez's late missed penalty and a 1-0 win at Huddersfield at the weekend was a case of 'job done'.
Strangely though, these uncharacteristic low-scoring matches might prove to be valuable experiences for them. It would be hard to replicate last year's Champions League campaign where just about every match they played en route to the final was filled with goals so they'll need to know how to sometimes just get over the line rather than sprint over it.
Roberto Firmino will surely return to the starting line-up, probably at the expense of Daniel Sturridge; Sadio Mane missed out at the weekend and remains a doubt with a hand injury.
Red Star inexperienced at this level
Crvena Zvezda (or Red Star Belgrade to you and I) are making their debut in the Champions League. They secured an excellent 0-0 draw at home to Napoli in Week 1, although quite frankly, they were battered in terms of possession (just 26.7%) if not in terms of goals.
But in Week 2 they suffered a rude awakening, going down 6-1 at Paris Saint Germain, where an inspired Neymar scored a hat-trick. It was a reminder of the gulf in class and experience about a side playing in this competition for the first time and one who is expected to at the very least make the semis.
But they're certainly shining on the domestic front. They're 12 matches into the season and have 11 wins and a draw.
Boling hot favourite limits betting opportunities
The problem with a game like this (where one side is 1/14) is that it's not so easy to find a bet. Anything and everything involving Liverpool is prohibitively short because they're expected to go out and bulldoze the opposition. After all, this is a side who were runners-up last year up against one tasting Champions League football for the first time, who are fresh from conceding six in Paris.
Further examples of the understandably skinny odds on offer are: Liverpool -2 on the handicap market is just 4/7, the hosts to be leading at half-time and then again at full time is 3/10 and Mo Salah is just 2/9 to score anytime.
Of course, you can take the contrarian view and think this match might be a lot tighter than the odds suggest. For example, you could go with under 2.5 goals at 10/3 or back Red Star at 3/1 with a two-goal lead. All well and good but are we really to believe that this is going to be close? Liverpool's attack isn't necessarily any weaker than PSG's and goals could be hugely important here.
That late Napoli goal really set the cat amongst the pigeons in Group C. It's a three-way fight for two places and with not much to choose between the Reds, PSG and Napoli, it could ultimately come down to how badly all three of them beat Red Star, meaning goal difference could certainly come into play here.
Which would of course mean that Liverpool will be desperate to score as many as they can.
Milner and van Dijk acceptable prices to score
We do have an odds-on goalscorer to tip up (see below) but we won't be recommending one as a single. James Milner should play here and as the team's penalty-taker may interest some at odds of 11/5. By the way, a penalty in the match is somewhat bizarrely priced up at 10/11 which is surely the first time I've ever seen a penalty to be awarded in the match trading at odds-on. But if there's a reason for that I don't know about, it would increase Milner's chances of getting on the scoresheet.
The other man worthy of consideration is Virgil van Dijk at 5/1. It's not unreasonable to think Liverpool may have a load of corners and he's as dangerous as anyone in the game from them.
Same-Game Multi-bet: Big win, Firmino goal
The answer to the question 'what's the bet then?' may come in the form of a same-game multi-bet. Given the gulf we've spoken about in terms of experience and quality, plus Liverpool's need for goals, we should really see Liverpool get four of them. That's on offer at evens in the Home team Over/Under 3.5 goals market.
As for a scorer, Liverpool's go-to man in the Champions League is Roberto Firmino. In seven matches at Anfield, he's scored five goals (Opta). In truth, he's not in particularly good form in front of goal right now but he'll have few better chances to make amends than this one. He's 4/9 to get a goal and the same-game multi comes to 2.6.
Back Over 3.5 home team goals (evens) + Roberto Firmino to score (4/9) @ 2.6