Last campaign, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool were a joy to behold at times, playing the sort of free-flowing, no-fear football that fans love to see. Despite this, the Reds only managed a paltry fourth-placed Premier League finish. Of course, the team fared much better in Europe – even the most fleeing of football fans will remember that fateful night in Kiev last year when Liverpool fell at the final hurdle and succumbed to Real Madrid in the Champions League final.
Whilst Liverpool have never won the Premier League since the rebranding of the first division, it would appear that the Champions League still remains the holy grail for the club. With memories of the 2005 final against AC Milan still fresh in the mind, can Liverpool right the wrongs of last season and lift the Champions League trophy in Madrid next year?
On the surface, Liverpool’s style of play is arguably more suited to European football than anything else. Jurgen Klopp has once again decided to use the pace of his front three to employ a counter-attacking style of play, which has been proven to work extremely well on the continent. This was evident in Liverpool’s 3-2 defeat of PSG back in September and despite the narrow margin of victory, Liverpool were worthy winners and provided the footballing world with a blueprint of how best to succeed in the Champions League.
After their vital win against PSG, Liverpool narrowly lost to Napoli earlier this month after a late Lorenzo Insigne strike. Whilst escaping the group will be no easy task for Klopp’s men, many predictions for the Champions League final involve Liverpool somewhere in and around the mix and so in the bookmakers’ eyes at least, you write Liverpool off at your peril.
When looking at whether Liverpool can lift the Champions League trophy in May, it’s important to ask another question: what was behind their defeat to Real Madrid in Kiev? Truth to be told, Liverpool were simply outclassed on the night by a quality Real Madrid side, but with players one year older and having had a taste of such a high-pressure game, both Liverpool and Klopp will have learned a lot.
It’s also important to remember that in Alisson, Liverpool have signed a world-class keeper and have replaced a walking calamity in Lois Karius. No matter how hard one bangs the concussion drum, the fact remains that with a competent keeper in goal, Liverpool could have maybe got something out of the game despite being second best for large parts. Will Alisson get a chance to prove that he can handle everything that comes with a Champions League final? Only time will tell.
There’s no doubt that, on paper, Liverpool can go one better this season and lift the Champions League trophy. After strengthening the squad in the summer, the club is certainly better equipped to fight on all fronts in a bid to land a first trophy under Klopp.
With Napoli still to come to Anfield, Liverpool will fancy their chances of reversing the result of their game at the Stadio San Paolo and a draw against PSG is also likely to be enough to see them comfortably escape the group. The key difference between the Liverpool of last season and this lies at the feet of their Egyptian magician – if Salah can hit top form again then there’s really no limit to what Klopp and his side can achieve.