Liverpool are back in the Champions League after quite some time. The Reds did play in Europe’s top competition once earlier in this decade under Brendan Rodgers in 2014/15. However, neither the manager nor most of the squad had any prior experience and it showed in the group stage.
On the other hand, things look much different on so many levels this time around. Although Jurgen Klopp’s men had to win a playoff to get into the group stages, the English team were brilliant across two legs against German side Hoffenheim who were, perhaps, the toughest side Liverpool could have drawn.
As a matter of fact, there is no reason as to why Liverpool cannot win the Champions League. The team is more than capable of winning the biggest prize in European club football and here are 5 reasons why.
The surprise element
Liverpool can take teams by surprise with their underdog status this season.
The simple and most obvious reason why the Reds can win the Champions League is why not. Liverpool are a top club with some of the best players in Europe in their ranks. Further, the club has a steep history in Europe and have won the tournament five times over the years, the highest by any English club.
The only thing they don’t have going for them is the lack of experience in the competition. However, every once in a while, a team takes everyone by surprise through a display of grit, effort, and some luck, with Chelsea being the most recent one in 2011/12.
This Liverpool team can definitely do that, as was expressed by former Red, Luis Garcia, who definitely knows a thing or two about being underdogs due to his exploits with the club in 2005.
The former Liverpool attacker said, “If you look at the players and some of their performances you can say why not have a go at the Champions League.When I was at Liverpool, nobody really knew too much about us until we reached the 2005 final. Everyone was surprised but I think the team now is a lot better than back then. So why not? You know that this team on their day can surprise you”.
Favourable draw & possible January reinforcements
Although the squad has quality, the lack of experience in the Champions League is a drawback. This implies that the draw is a huge factor and luckily, Liverpool avoided a few tough groups including the one with Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund to get a good draw.
Sevilla are not the same team that beat Liverpool in the 2016 Europa League final. Spartak Moscow and Maribor could prove to be potential banana skins but Klopp’s team is expected to deal with them relatively well. In fact, Liverpool are favourites to top the group.
Thus, getting through to the knockouts will bring Liverpool to January where the club can rectify problem areas. Virgil van Dijk continues to be the top defensive target and the Merseyside club will benefit massively from the move if it happens in January.
Further, Naby Keita’s move next summer could be preponed if Leipzig do not make it to the knockout stage. Also, Divock Origi’s loan move to Wolfsburg has a recall option in January. This can prove to be useful in case any of their current strikers pick up injuries and if Origi makes use of the playing time in Germany to finally realize his potential.
Thus, Liverpool can get stronger for the knockouts and can give any of the favourites a run for their money. This in itself is a strong reason why the Champions League trophy will be paraded around Merseyside in 2018.
The Anfield factor
Anfield is once again becoming a fortress under Klopp.
Before Liverpool’s struggles to qualify for the Champions League began this decade, opponents feared the home legs in the Champions League against the English club. The Reds were virtually unbeatable at home with great wins against almost every top club in Europe.
Anfield ceased to be a fortress in this decade as the club hit new lows. However, the arrival of Klopp signalled a change and the Reds are once again a tough proposition at home as Hoffenheim found out recently.
Liverpool scored the three goals needed in the final half-hour against Dortmund to win the tie.
In the 2016/17 season, Klopp’s team pulled off one of the best ever European comebacks by scoring thrice in the final half-hour against Borussia Dortmund to knock out the German side. Nights like this are what Liverpool fans yearn for and Anfield is once again becoming a fortress with the fans’ in full voice, especially for European games.
Thus, the Reds are capable of pulling off big wins and upsets at Anfield which is a great advantage for the club to reach the final.
One of the best attacks in Europe
Finally, coming to the footballing aspect, the Reds’ attack is one of the most potent ones not only in England but also across Europe. While their defence still remains susceptible, the opposite is true for Klopp’s attack.
In Roberto Firmino, Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane, Liverpool have a brilliant combination of pace, creativity, goals, versatility, work-rate and talent. Philippe Coutinho pulling the strings from behind while makes the attack potentially devastating and the Brazilian has the ability to score absolute screamers from outside the box.
Daniel Sturridge remains a top goalscorer while Dominic Solanke brings in young blood with a good presence around the goal. Further, the presence of Adam Lallana and new signing Alex-Oxlade Chamberlain gives the team creativity, power and versatility. Also, attacking full-backs in the form of 18-year old Trent Alexander-Arnold, Alberto Moreno and Andrew Robertson add more bite to the side.
Thus, Klopp’s men can open up any defence in the world and it papers over their weakness in defence as they can outscore most opponents. This makes the Reds a very dangerous side to face and gives them a great chance to win the Champions League.