Europa League preview: Liverpool v Braga

Liverpool will look to rebound from their first European defeat of the season when they welcome Braga to Anfield in the Europa League.

After suffering a surprise 1-0 loss at the Estadio Municipal de Braga courtesy of a penalty from Brazilian winger Alan, Kenny Dalglish’s side will need to break down a resilient Braga defence if they are to progress.

The Portuguese side have not conceded a goal in their last four European games, all of them victories – a far cry from the outfit that was routed 6-0 by Arsenal at the Emirates in their first match of this season’s Champions League campaign.

Braga’s record against English teams will give Liverpool cause for confidence ahead of Thursday’s game, with the Portuguese side winning only three of its 11 European games against Premier League clubs.

Sitting in sixth on the Liga Sagres table, Braga are a staggering 34 points behind runaway leaders Porto, while Liverpool have climbed up the English Premier League to also sit in sixth on the back of some improved form since Dalglish replaced Roy Hodgson.

The Reds will be without captain Steven Gerrard, who underwent groin surgery last week and is expected to miss a month. But Dalglish’s side will be boosted by news that defender Daniel Agger and 19-year-old midfielder Jonjo Shelvey have returned to training after both suffered knee injuries last month.

Unfortunately for Dalglish, star striker Luis Suarez, in impressive form since his January transfer from Ajax, is cup-tied after representing the Dutch giants in the Champions League.

With goals crucial, 35-million-pound striker Andy Carroll could be handed his first Liverpool start after playing just over half an hour in the first leg as a substitute for Christian Poulsen.