LIVERPOOL are set to take on Sevilla at Anfield on Wednesday night as Jurgen Klopp’s Reds make their Champions League return.
The tie is a rematch of the 2016 Europa League final which the Spanish side comfortably won 3-1.
In the process they denied the Merseysiders a first major European honour since their miraculous 2005 Champions League win.
But our friends are Football Whispers believe Liverpool are well equipped to exact revenge on their visitors this time around.
When Klopp’s men met Unai Emery’s men at St Jakob-Park a little over a year ago, the Andalusian outfit cruised to a third successive Europa League title.
They overcame a Daniel Sturridge opener to see off the Premier League club in emphatic fashion, in a display that was both controlling and dynamic.
The five-time winners of the competition impressed to lift Europe’s second-most prized silverware thanks to Kevin Gameiro’s equaliser and a brace from man of the match Coke.
But much has changed at both clubs since that time, and the balance of power appears to have shifted in Liverpool’s favour.
Emery has since departed to take charge of Paris Saint-Germain, and Sevilla are now on their second coach since the Spanish tactician’s move to the Parc des Princes.
Successor Jorge Sampaoli produced eye-catching and tactically diverse football last term before leaving to take charge of the Argentinian national team.
Former Celta Vigo boss Eduardo Berizzo is now at the helm.
Despite seven points from a possible nine in the Spanish top flight so far this term, he will, understandably, still be adjusting to life at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan.
Sevilla have also waved goodbye to long-time sporting director and acclaimed transfer market guru Monchi.
On the pitch there has been even greater change for Los Nervionenses.
Of the eleven players who started against the Reds in Switzerland in May 2015, only five remain at the club.
Goal-scorers Coke and Gameiro have both been sold; midfield enforcer Grzegorz Krychowiak is now at West Brom after a disappointing spell in Paris with Emery.
Vitolo, Adil Rami and Mariano have all left, too.
Even Ever Banega, star playmaker of their Europa League run that season, departed for Inter Milan, and only returned to the club this summer after failing to establish himself in Serie A.
So, the Sevilla that will travel to Anfield this week will be scarcely recognisable to Liverpool.
The La Liga side remains strong, but it is hard to argue that they are better than two years ago.
And it’s hard to deny that Liverpool have become a vastly more fearsome unit in that time too.
Klopp was just seven months into his Anfield tenure when he guided the Reds to the Europa League final.
It was an achievement which, most would admit, was unexpected at that stage as the German coach was still moulding the side in his “heavy metal” image.
There are, of course, still holes in Liverpool’s arsenal, with their defence questionable.
But the former Borussia Dortmund boss, 50, has transformed them into one of the most feared attacking sides in Europe.
On their day, the Reds are capable of dismantling any defence with their high-energy, high-tempo and high-pressing approach.
It is clear that the Liverpool players wholeheartedly buy in to Klopp’s rhetoric.
The German is a master motivator and has inspired great improvements within the likes of Jordan Henderson, Simon Mignolet and Emre Can among others.
Two of Liverpool’s devastating front three have been brought in since they last faced Sevilla.
Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have been added to Roberto Firmino’s 2015 arrival from Hoffenheim.
All acquired for a total outlay of less than £100million, it represents tremendous business in the modern market, the likes of which even Monchi would be proud of.
Their failure to sign a top-class centre-back this summer, missing out of primary target Virgil van Dijk, has undoubtedly checked Liverpool’s drastic upward trajectory.
But they are contenders in the Premier League and the kind of team side in Europe will relish facing.
Klopp’s Liverpool are still a work in progress, but they have come a long way since their Europa League final disappointment 16 months ago.
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