Liverpool are on the brink of elimination from the UEFA Champions League, after they fell 2-1 to PSG in France overnight.
The Reds are currently third in Group C and face group leaders Napoli in a fortnight at Anfield. The Italian club won the first encounter between the two sides 1-0. Liverpool will have the home advantage, however Napoli are a strong team that will not fall easily.
It is a big contrast for Liverpool, who are considered as one of the favourites for the Premier League title this season.
Elimination from the Champions League would allow them to put more focus on the Premier League, however finishing third in the group would result in demotion to the knockout stages of the Europa League. They would need to win the Europa League to reduce the embarrassment of their potential Champions League elimination.
Of course, Liverpool still are a chance to progress to the round of 16 in the Champions League, however it is not as easy as it sounds. A win over Napoli is essential.
Firstly, an unlikely PSG loss to Crvena zvezda would have the Reds in prime position to pounce and make the knockout stages, eliminating PSG in the process. While the French giants are the clear favourites, anything can happen, and Crvena zvezda did beat Liverpool in Serbia.
A PSG victory would mean that Liverpool will need a result against Napoli. They would require either a 1-0 win, or by a margin of two goals or more in order to progress. Anything less would see them demoted to the Europa League.
It is astounding to think that the team that finished as runners’ up in last season’s Champions League is now relying on their last match to progress.
They are in a tougher group this season, however, in order to be the best, you have to beat the best. Last night’s match was their third loss in the group-stage, whereas this time last season they were undefeated in the competition.
Scoring has also been an issue this campaign, with only eight goals scored so far. Last season, they amassed 23 goals in the group-stage, while conceding only six goals. Then in the knockout stages, they found the back of the net 18 times. They will need to recreate their strong attacking performances of last season to progress to the next round.
It could be said that their great start to the Premier League season has had an impact on their performances in the Champions League. They remain undefeated and have only conceded five goals in 13 matches domestically, compared to seven goals in five matches in Europe.
Additionally, the form of Mo Salah may have played a part European struggles. Salah is one of Liverpool’s best players and has had a massive schedule in 2018, with the World Cup mid-year. The Egyptian star has not been able to replicate his form of last season, however Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has signalled that Salah is close to returning to his best.
Whatever it is that has caused Liverpool’s mixed form in the Champions League this season can be thrown out the window with a strong victory over Napoli in a fortnight.
The match will be essential viewing for Liverpool fans and the neutral, as last season’s finalist faces elimination from the Champions League.