Anfield was home to another special European night, as Liverpool clawed their way back into second place to qualify for the Champions League round of 16.

While they haven’t quite echoed their Premier League form, the Reds are still a quality side that will make other sides nervous.

It’s something that is common in this season’s version of the Champions League. The second-placed teams are of a higher quality than previous seasons, and can still do damage in the knockout rounds of the competition.

Liverpool had a mixed performance in the group-stage, with the Reds winning three and losing three. Their shock loss to Crvena zvezda in November turned out to be the costly one, preventing them from topping their group. However, they can still repeat their efforts of last season and make the final again.

Atlético Madrid are another side that look to threaten in the knockout stages.

While they finished level on points with first-placed Borussia Dortmund in Group A, the Spanish club lost the head-to-head battle with the German giants. Diego Simeone’s men are currently third in La Liga and can match it with the likes of PSG, Porto and others that finished on top of their group.

Tottenham managed to scrape through in Group B to finish second above Inter Milan. This was arguably the toughest group of this season’s tournament and proved that Tottenham can make an impact in Europe. Currently sitting third in the Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino’s side will be looking to better their round of 16 finish from last season.

With matches to come overnight, there are a couple of big teams that can still finish second.

In Group E, a mouth-watering clash will take place as Ajax and Bayern Munich face off in Amsterdam. A win for Ajax will lift them to first-place in their group and demote the German heavyweights to second place. While this would be disappointing for Bayern, they would no doubt frighten several of the group winners.

Finally, the Group H matches will be of interest, as Manchester United will hope to overtake Juventus and finish on top of their group. For this to happen, Juventus would have to either lose or draw in Switzerland to BSC Young Boys, while Manchester United would have to win in Spain against Valencia.

As we have seen, anything is possible in football. Juventus may not go into the match at full strength, knowing that their progression to the next stage is confirmed. Furthermore, Valencia are struggling in 15th place in the La Liga, having only won three of their matches so far.

While Manchester United have not performed as well as they would have liked in the Premier League, they still have what it takes to win the match.

Regardless of what happens, this proves that no match is easy in the Champions League knockout stages and finishing second is not as bad as it seems.

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Tim Sperliotis
tsperliotis@gmail.com