Liverpool are having a disaster of a season but the Champions League could be their last chances on the road to winning silverware this season.
They are 6th in the league and out of both domestic cups. Injuries to all three first-team centre-backs have turned them from an elite team to an average one and there are serious questions on whether a rebuild is needed in the summer.
Despite all this, Liverpool looked back to their best in the first leg of the Champions League Last 16 tie against RB Leipzig. They caught Leipzig out twice with Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane was able to punish the German side. Unless they have a major slip up, the Reds look to be heading to the quarter-finals but could they win the prestigious trophy for the seventh time?
Reds’ Try to Save Season with Champions League
Liverpool Have One Last Chance
This Liverpool side has many flaws at present but so did the finalists of the 2017/18 season and if Salah didn’t get cruelly injured that night they may have won it all. They still have the same front three that got them there, the midfield has improved, despite his recent errors Alisson is still miles better than Loris Karius, and the full-backs of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson are much more experienced now.
The problem is the competition. On the road to the final, Liverpool faced one elite side, Manchester City. This year they’ll have to face probably at least two of Bayern Munich’s sextuple side, Kylian Mbappe’s Paris Saint-Germain, and possibly City; who just beat them 4-1. They will have to do this all without the famous Anfield crowd, which was key in getting them past City three seasons ago.
Klopp’s Liverpool Long for Big European Nights
Before Liverpool’s mess of a defeat to Atletico Madrid last season, Klopp had not lost a two-legged European tie as Liverpool manager. He led a side that included just three of the current squad as regulars past Manchester United and Borussia Dortmund to the Europa League final in 2015/16.
A part of that impressive record was the Anfield crowd which won’t be present but another was the energy that Klopp brings to European nights. He could be seen shouting words of encouragement throughout the night at the Puskas Arena and his team played with a higher intensity as a result. Liverpool’s high press was back and it forced Leipzig into two costly mistakes which have given Liverpool the upper hand in the tie.
Thiago Offers a Solution to Away Problem
Despite being impressive in two-legged ties in Europe, Liverpool has often struggled away from home. Defeats to Napoli, PSG, Barcelona, and Red Star Belgrade all happened in Liverpool’s Champions League-winning campaign. The midfield of energetic runners that Klopp likes to use often struggled in these games, especially against Barcelona and PSG. They couldn’t control the tempo of the game and Liverpool’s forwards barely had any service as a result. Summer signing Thiago is a specialist at controlling the tempo. If Liverpool can get enough players available to give the Spaniard the support he needs in midfield, Thiago will help them dominate against Europe’s best.
Liverpool’s Character Remains Strong
Liverpool still has the mentality of an elite side. Recent social media posts and interviews from their players and staff show they’re going to stop at nothing to bring silverware to Anfield this year. The return of the injured Virgil Van Dijk from Dubai is only going to boost morale even further. The Dutchman can help new signing Ozan Kabak learn the system and become a mentor to the inexperienced centre-backs. Star striker Salah cleared up any rumours of discontent with his recent tweet and the front three looked a lot more fluid against Leipzig. Liverpool are working together to get out of this rut and they have a strong belief that they will eventually turn this around.
Liverpool are Dark Horses to Win the Champions League
In the summer, Liverpool were one of the favourites to win the Champions League but the injury crisis and poor form mean they are just outsiders now. This suits this Liverpool side though, whenever they’ve been outsiders before they’ve come up with something memorable. The famous 4-0 win against Barcelona, the Merseyside derby win over Everton with a highly weakened team and the final run all spring to mind. The Reds should be back to their best next season but it’s important to keep the winning mentality going. Winning the Champions League is the only way to achieve that.
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