Liverpool has reached the halfway stage in their Champions League group and everything is still to play for. Right now, every team within Group E has the possibility of qualifying as top. That may be in the case of Maribor more of a mathematical possibility than a realistic one. However, all four teams will still believe that they have the quality to get make it to the knockout stage.
Liverpool Champions League Halfway Report
As it stands
Liverpool’s emphatic seven-goal victory away to Maribor has done much to raise the optimism around their qualifying campaign. Frustrating draws to Sevilla and Spartak Moscow had made the process of qualifying much more complicated. But, after Tuesday night Liverpool currently sit top of their group, albeit on goal difference.
The somewhat surprising result at the Otkrytie stadium between Spartak Moscow and Sevilla has thrown the group wide open. A victory for Sevilla on the night would have almost guaranteed their qualification for the knockout stages. However, the loss now means that between the top three teams is only one point.
Liverpool’s chances of topping the group have greatly increased. However, equally, their chances of finishing third and being relegated to the Europa League have grown.
What does Liverpool need to do to qualify?
Much will depend on the next round of fixtures. Liverpool will be expected to win their next game, on paper an easy tie against Maribor who they just beat 0 – 7 away. Liverpool will benefit from Maribor not being out of the running for qualification. The Slovenian side will be very aware that anything but a win against the Reds will all but cause their elimination. Maribor will, therefore, be forced to attack in the game which should play directly into the hands of Liverpool. A victory against Maribor will place Liverpool in a strong position.
Although Liverpool’s own result is vital, the match that will determine much is the other fixture, Sevilla V Spartak Moscow. Logically, the reds best hope is for a Spartak victory. If Spartak and Liverpool win, it will move both sides four points clear of Sevilla. Then, If Liverpool can escape loss at the Ramón Sánchez-Pizjuán Stadium it would guarantee their qualification to the knockout stage with a game to spare.
However, Liverpool supporters should have their fingers crossed for the two sides to draw. This would allow for them to open a gap between themselves and their other two rivals. This would place Liverpool in prime position. With their superior goal difference, two draws in their final two games would probably be enough to take them through as top.
The Importance of qualifying top
In previous years finishing top of the group has meant little, often with just as difficult a draw. This is not the case this year. The impressive performances in Europe of the other English sides, Chelsea, Manchester City and Manchester United mean all three will likely top their groups. This would greatly narrow the field of potential opponents Liverpool could be drawn against if they finished second. As it currently stands, the prime candidates would be Real Madrid, PSG, Barcelona and Beşiktaş. Apart from Beşiktaş, any of these games would place Liverpool firmly as the underdog. It is true that you must beat every team if you wish to get to the final, but Liverpool wants to progress as far as possible before a showdown with the big guns.
Will Liverpool do it?
Liverpool supporters should be confident. The team has played well in all three of their fixtures so far. They played wonderfully at times against Sevilla, but were hampered from defensive lapses in concentration. In the second game against Spartak, they again put on a good display only let down by their lack of clinical finishing. Against Maribor, everything came together and the other sides around Europe will have taken note.
The three remaining games should offer little to stop Liverpool’s progress. The key is guaranteeing they qualify as top of their group. This should give them a competitive draw in the round of sixteen, which is winnable. If Liverpool can get through that and into the quarterfinals, who knows how far they can go.