American manager Jesse Marsch leads Red Bull Salzburg into Anfield on Tuesday for a UEFA Champions League clash with Liverpool, and he understands well that the building his team is walking into is half-cauldron, half-cathedral.
In fact, both managers are making Anfield a character in the story of Tuesday’s 3 p.m. ET kickoff.
[ MORE: Tuesday UCL wrap ]
“Anfield is a special stadium,” Marsch said. “Today we had the opportunity to get used to the dimensions and the myth. Tomorrow, the atmosphere is added. We will absorb all that.”
Marsch admitted that there will be temptations to lose focus for his young team, but stressed that if his club sticks with “our strengths and not let ourselves be scared, then we are dangerous.”
Salzburg, of course, is the former club of Liverpool star Sadio Mane, and the Senegalese winger admits that he still follows the Austrian side closely.
And Jurgen Klopp said that Salzburg’s next up-and-coming attacker, Erling Braut Haland, is just one more reason to be wary of the visitors.
“He is young, hungry, fast and direct,” Klopp said of Haland. “He is very dangerous. Nonetheless, it is our job to make Salzburg feel that they are here on Anfield.”
There are other Americans in action in the UCL, though Lille’s Timothy Weah will miss a chance to match up with Christian Pulisic and Chelsea on Tuesday.
That’s if Pulisic plays in France, where Frank Lampard will be laser-focused on a result after Ross Barkley‘s missed penalty helped doom Chelsea in the opener.
Barkley’s been in the news for other reasons this week, having reportedly been escorted to an ATM by police after refusing to pay a taxi driver following an incident with french fries in the back of a vehicle.
“The lads were given a day off on Sunday. He hasn’t committed a crime other than eating chips in the back of a cab, which is probably a bit out of order for the cabbie, but on a serious note what he has done from my point of view is be naive to be out on that evening in the buildup to a Champions League game.”
Sounds like Barkley’s going to get some leeway from his boss, who will need an improved showing out of the former Everton man if he wants to collect points in France.
In Spain, there will be a huge clash between Antonio Conte‘s well-running Inter Milan and a challenged Barcelona who is facing turmoil on-and-off the pitch but did pick up a much-needed win over the weekend.
Finally, there’s one more American likely to make a UCL appearance on Wednesday, though the bigger story here will be whether Ajax’s Sergino Dest is named in Gregg Berhalter’s USMNT squad.
Dest, 18, only made a substitute’s appearance against Groningen at the weekend and is a likely starter at Valencia. The right back played left back for Berhalter during the last international break, but expressed hesitance to commit to the USMNT when the Netherlands could come knocking. If he accepts a call-up for the CONCACAF Nations League games next week, he could be cap-tied to the USMNT for life.
UCL on Wednesday
12:55 p.m. ET
Slavia Prague v. Borussia Dortmund
Genk v. Napoli
3 p.m. ET
Liverpool v. Red Bull Salzburg
Lille v. Chelsea
Zenit Saint-Petersburg v. Benfica
Valencia v. Ajax
Barcelona v. Inter Milan
RB Leipzig v. Lyon