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European Flights: Liverpool Travel to Switzerland to Face Basel

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Jamie McDonald

Saturday was a bitter pill to swallow -- Liverpool looked right once again and were set to taste the sweetness of a derby victory, but then Phil Jagielka unleashed his stunner and it felt as if we were back to to square one. After two emotionally draining matches in a week, Liverpool must dig deep to recover in Switzerland as they face Basel.

Through ten league games, Basel sit atop the Swiss Super League with 22 points. However, in their previous Champions League game they lost 5-1 to Real Madrid.

The main tactical question that Brendan Rodgers faces is how to align the midfield. Liverpool have switched between the 4-1-2-1 and 4-2-3-1 shape this season based on their opponent and available personnel. Against Basel it makes more sense for Liverpool to operate in the diamond because as the heavy favorites they'll look to control possession and dominate the central midfield. Additionally, the double pivot featuring Steven Gerrard often leaves Liverpool exposed at the back, which is a recipe for disaster against a team trying to score goals on the counter attack.

Mamadou Sakho stormed out of Anfield on Saturday after being left out of the starting lineup against Everton, and now he's going to miss up to three weeks with a thigh injury. After the Skrtel-Lovren pairing put in a solid shift against Everton he probably wasn't in the plans anyways, however it's concerning that the man anointed as the future anchor of the back line still hasn't found his footing at Anfield.

The key for Liverpool is to use the Everton disappointment as a stepping stone rather than a brick wall. If the Reds play like they did against Everton with improved performance around the opposition box and no firecrackers from center backs then they should be fine against Basel.