3 Key Battles That Could Decide Wednesday's Clash Between Liverpool and Sevilla

 ​Liverpool's return to Champions League football sees them face off against an old foe in Sevilla - who will not have forgotten their 3-1 victory over the Reds in the 2016 Europa League final.

While Jürgen Klopp's side dealt with Hoffenheim professionally in the playoffs to earn their place in Group E, a recent thrashing by Manchester City in the league may have dented their confidence, while Sevilla come into Wednesday's game sitting behind only Barcelona in La Liga.

Both sides will want a win to start their Champions League campaigns strongly, Liverpool perhaps needing three points more than Sevilla, and here's three battles that could go a long way to deciding how the game pans out... 

3. Jordan Henderson vs Steven N'Zonzi

Once taunted by fans around the country and branded an overrated waste of money, Jordan Henderson has developed into a very capable holding midfielder.

While his defensive ability is still lacking in areas, Henderson has showed that he is very capable of carving out attacks from the middle of the park and last season's passing accuracy of 85% (the same as Mezut Özil and better than Kevin de Bruyne) only strengthens this point.

Former Stoke man N'Zonzi is supposed to be the rock between Sevilla's midfield and the back four, and if he can keep Henderson out of the game then Liverpool will be relying on Mané, Salah and Firmino to use their own individual brilliance rather than relying on the midfield to create chances. 

2. Sadio Mané vs Gabriel Mercado

Sadio Mané will be available for the Reds as the suspension for his red card against Manchester City on Saturday only applies for domestic fixtures.

The 25-year-old has been in brilliant form since signing from Southampton in 2016 and his pace and finishing can cause trouble for most defenders in the world.

Sevilla right-back Gabriel Mercado is not significantly quick and so if he cannot keep close to the Mané and prevent him from having a clear run at Sevilla's defence, Liverpool will be expected to cause all kinds of problems down the left flank.

1. Joel Matip & Dejan Lovren vs Wissam Ben Yedder

It is well known that Liverpool's main weaknesses lie in their defence, and so it should be clear that how effectively the Reds' back line deals with the Sevilla attackers will determine the outcome of the game.

Despite being only 26-years-old, Joel Matip has over 300 career appearances and so manager Klopp will be expecting the Cameroon international to make use of his experience on Wednesday evening alongside Dejan Lovren, who has recently had something of a renaissance after a dodgy start to his Liverpool career.

Although Sevilla's new signing Luis Muriel showed a lot of potential last season for Sampdoria, much of the focus will be on Wissam Ben Yedder to lead the line for the Spanish side and provide a match-winning performance.

The Frenchman scored 18 times last season and so if the Liverpool defence are lacking in consistency, which they often were guilty of last year, and Ben Yedder is allowed to dictate the game, then it could be a long night for the Anfield faithful.