With a perfect five wins from five league matches to their name, Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool will now shift their focus toward the competition that solidified their position amongst Europe’s elite last season: the UEFA Champions League and its “Group of Death”.
LFC Transfer Room’s Jacob Ashton (@RobertsonRole) takes a quick look into how he thinks the Reds will fare against their opponents in this season’s “Group of Death”.
Paris Saint-Germain (Match Days 1 & 5)
Liverpool begin their “Group of Death” merry-go-round against PSG tomorrow – one of the competition favourites and current French division champion.
This will be the first time the two teams will meet since the semi-finals of the European Cup in 1977. Liverpool host the French giants on September 18 in what promises to be high-scoring affair.
Both teams have devasting attacking trios. PSG’s front line of Neymar, Edinson Cavani and Kylian Mbappe scored a combined 17 goals in last year’s competition.
However, Liverpool trumped that figure by some stretch. They scored an unbelievable 30 goals across their front three of Sadio Mané, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah last season.
PSG are also under new management this season. Klopp’s replacement at Borussia Dortmund, Thomas Tuchel, took over from Unai Emery in the summer and is looking to even the score with the Liverpool manager.
The last time Klopp and Tuchel met was in a 4-3 Europa League thriller back in 2016 when a late winner from Dejan Lovren sent Liverpool fans into hysteria.
New signing Gianluigi Buffon and midfield maestro Marco Verratti are both suspended for the opening leg at Anfield and will have to wait for the reverse fixture to feature.
Meanwhile, Liverpool are sweating an update on Firmino’s availability. The Brazilian striker suffered a gruesome eye injury in his side’s 2-1 League win over Tottenham and was forced to miss training today. He will be a game-day decision.
Napoli (Match Days 2 & 6)
Napoli might be the toughest team Liverpool could have drawn from Pot 2. The Italian outfit host Liverpool on the October 3 at the Stadio San Paolo.
Napoli are also under new management after Maurizio Sarri left for Chelsea in the summer. They quickly replaced him with the infamous Carlo Ancelotti, who has managed international giants such as Bayern Munich, Chelsea and Real Madrid.
The two sides met in pre-season this summer, with the Reds putting on a commanding display in a 5-0 victory. Competitively, they haven’t met since the 2010 Europa League, when Liverpool earned a 3-1 win and a 0-0 draw over two legs.
Napoli are a very different side now and pushed Juventus very close for the Serie A title last year. They totalled 91 points and finished second – just four points behind the Old Lady.
They also have some top quality players in captain Marek Hamsik, forward Dries Mertens and ex-Liverpool goalkeeper Pepe Reina.
Liverpool face a stern test but should be looking to build upon their pre-season showing and threaten to take all three points both at Anfield and on the Italian coast.
Red Star Belgrade/Crvena Zvezda (Match Days 3 & 4)
Crvena Zvezda, or Red Star Belgrade as they are more commonly known, joined group C from Pot 4.
Red Star made a return to the Champions League after finishing top of the Serbian SuperLiga last year.
While arguably the minnows of the group, Red Star have a sound history in the competition, having won the European Cup back in the 90/91.
Red Star are nothing near what they used to be but are certainly not pushovers either. They currently lead the Serbian SuperLiga with seven consecutive wins and are will be a tough test, especially at the Rajko Mitić Stadium.
The Serbian outfit are known to have one of the fiercest and most hostile atmospheres in Europe, making the away trip even more difficult for the opposition.
Why Liverpool shouldn’t be afraid of “Group of Death”
Regardless of who the Reds face, they shouldn’t be afraid of anyone. With a strengthened defence and last season’s record-breaking attack still in tow, they should be favourites to top the group.
The trio of Mane-Firmino-Salah have not been at 100% so far this season. But they will be. And when they start to click, you can rest assured no opposing team could keep a clean sheet against them.