So, Qatar away on Wednesday night
It’s staggering how little a chance we get to talk about this game. Around this time of the season, it seems every individual match gets less and less attention as we approach the New Year.
There is so little time to catch your breath. No more international breaks to spend time reflecting and looking forward. It’s relentless. A six-week slog until the F.A. Cup third-round when we’ll undoubtedly be drawn away to one of the Manchester clubs.
It’s only Matchday five, and yet tomorrow night’s clash in the Parc des Princes feels like a play-off. It deserves two weeks of build-up. It deserves an hour and a half worth of pre-match television discussion.
Providing Red Star Belgrade go back to being the crap Eastern European side we thought they were and lose in Naples, then a win away in Paris puts Liverpool through. Somehow.
It feels like someone’s done the maths wrong. Five games played, three wins, two losses and yet you could be through with a game to spare in what is arguably the group of death?
But not just that. A chance to knock them out.
We owe it to football. Never mind your league priorities, your group stage progression, your ‘draw is always a good result away from home in Europe’ and never mind your one eye on the derby.
Win tomorrow night, and they are gone. The cash-strapped, state-owned, FFP-dodging Paris Saint-Germain would be out of the one competition that matters to them. The wannabes would be heading for the Europa League and the real deal would be on the march to the knockout stages of Europe’s premier club competition.
Their season would be over. They will win Ligue 1 and probably even the Coupe de France. But what would it matter?
They exist to win the Champions League. The purchases of messrs Neymar and Mbappé are all in an effort to win Europe’s top crown. Just like Man City, they never will.
Liverpool will wear their home kit for Wednesday’s Champions League tie with Paris Saint-Germain. PSG haves decided to wear their all-white away strip for the game at the Parc des Princes pic.twitter.com/xm9vEqSuVi
— Radio City News (@RadioCityNews) November 26, 2018
You all know why. They don’t have what clubs like Liverpool have. They don’t ‘get it’, and all the other clichés you heard in the European run last year. But clichés are clichés for a reason. They’re true.
There are still a few tickets knocking about on PSG’s official website for the match. The cheapest of which is €144. The most expensive? 3000 smackers. This isn’t what European royalty is made of.
Despite being only two points off possibly the best side in Europe, Liverpool continue to look patchy in the league.
Perhaps it is the manager implementing a German sense of efficiency into the team, doing only what is needed and no more to get three points before a full-throated vicious title charge in the spring. However, Klopp’s acknowledgements that his side must start to perform better in order to compete on all fronts suggests that Liverpool’s low-key wins may not be by design.
In Europe, the Reds have been polarising. Paris and Red Star at home were the two best performances of the season, while Napoli and Belgrade away might well be the two worst.
Liverpool have exuded confidence at home in the Champions League. They’ve had that strut and arrogance that travelled with them both home and away last year.
On the road, they’ve looked lost at sea. Like lads who had never played together before. Without ideas and incapable of coming up with any before it was too late and the points were gone.
Liverpool must keep a clean sheet in the first twenty minutes. Allowing Paris Saint-Germain to get ahead and sit back for ninety minutes would be the worst-case scenario for the Reds.
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🎙💬 #ThomasTuchel : «We've got matches coming thick and fast, every three days, top games, that we want to approach with a maximum of motivation.» 🎙💬 #ThomasTuchel : «Nous allons enchaîner les matches, tous les trois jours, des rencontres de haut niveau, que nous voulons tous aborder avec la plus grande des motivations.» . 🔴🔵 #ICICESTPARIS #AllezParis #TuchelxPSG #ParisSaintGermain #Paris #Football #PSGTFC
They must keep the game open and avoid a situation like Belgrade three weeks ago, where the onus was on Klopp’s men to create and score.
Liverpool last season looked like the worst side in Europe to have to play against in your own backyard.
You couldn’t sit back at home in Europe, it was and still is sacrilege. You couldn’t make it a dog of a game at home in Europe, it was and still is sacrilege. You had to have a go. But you were damned if you did so.
Let’s be frank, Liverpool on the counter-attack have looked a shadow of their former selves so far this campaign, although perhaps stronger defensively because of it. If ever there was a chance to let the shackles off of the most feared three-pronged attack in Europe, it’s on Wednesday night.
Mane’s fitness is crucial to the Reds’ hopes of setting Europe alight again. It would be a big ask for Shaqiri to replicate what has been done by the Senegal native on Europe’s most elite level.
But if fit, then coming up against one of Europe’s so-called ‘big boys’ away from home in a game with so much pressure on the opposition to get a result would be the stuff of dreams for a Jurgen Klopp side. It couldn’t be set up any better.
Lose, and the Reds need to beat Napoli. Draw, and the Reds need to beat Napoli. Win, and it’s over Liverpool need to go for the jugular.
Win, and we knock them out. We owe it to football.
Allez Les Rouges.