As we approach the final stage of the UEFA Champions League (UCL) group games, twelve teams (Barcelona, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Real Madrid, Roma, Manchester United, Atletico Madrid, FC Porto, Schalke 04, Ajax and Borussia Dortmund) are already through to the next stage. But English teams, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur have to battle till to end to secure qualification to the Round of 16.
Liverpool’s aspiration hangs by a thread, and Jurgen Klopp and his players cannot afford any mistakes.
As it stands, the Reds face a difficult task as they have to defeat Napoli by a two-goal margin to qualify outrightly, regardless of the result between Paris Saint Germain (PSG) and Red Star Belgrade. Napoli, on the other hand, will qualify with just a draw at Anfield.
Liverpool has won their two previous games at Anfield in the competition, defeating PSG (3-2) and Red Star Belgrade (4-0) respectively. However, the English giants have lost all three games away from home: Napoli (1-0), Red Star Belgrade (2-0) and PSG (2-1).
Liverpool ought not to be fighting for their lives had they defeated Red Star in Belgrade but a shambolic performance against the Serbian side puts them in a precarious situation, a position, Reds’ boss, Jurgen Klopp, agrees with.“We caused the situation, but we still have the chance to go through and that is pretty special,” said Klopp. “I’m really looking forward to it.”
He also stated, “We knew after the Napoli game [in the second round of games] it was not good and Belgrade was not any better. So far at home, we have been good and we need to be even better on Tuesday. I told the boys if nothing special happens with a referee decision we will get what we deserve.”
In tonight’s match, the Anfield factor will play a huge role, as Liverpool have an impeccable record at home in 2018 and the crowd at the pitch will be behind the team all the way. Liverpool remains unbeaten in their last 18 European games in Anfield. Also, forward Mohamed Salah has been brilliant at home, scoring 8 goals in eight championship league matches.
Fellow English side Tottenham Hotspurs have their work well cut out for them as they face Group B winners Barcelona at the Camp Nou while Inter Milan face PSV at the San Siro.
Spurs would be looking to secure the highly coveted number two spot if they wish to advance to the next round. However, the London side’s fate is solely in their hands, as a victory over Barcelona will secure their passage. Predictions on which team will join Barcelona in the Round of 16 tilt towards Inter Milan, as they face a less challenging opponent in PSV.
The odds of Spurs defeating Barcelona at the Camp Nou is slim but their chances may not be absolutely bleak as the Spanish giant is set to rest Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi for the game.
Spurs lost 2-1 to Inter at the San Siro in their first meeting in September while they secured a 1-0 victory against the Italian team at Wembley, making the aggregate score 2-2, with Spurs having the advantage based on the away goals rule.
It will be a beautiful night of football as fans await the outcome of these games.