Liverpool have a history of going the most awkward way about getting out of European qualifying groups and they’re going to have to do it once more after falling at the feet of Neymar and Co. at the Parc des Prince last night.
A 1-0 win against Napoli or a victory by two goals or more, will do the trick for the Reds when the two meet at Anfield on December 11 to wrap up proceedings in Group C.
That’s more or less the same situation that they faced when Steven Gerrard nearly gave Andy Gray an aneurysm as the Reds navigated the challenge of Olympiacos at Anfield in the 2004/5 campaign.
Anfield has been kind to them this time around, winning two from two at home, and so they’ll certainly feel that a repeat is within their capabilities. The form of Klopp’s men on the road on the continent, though, has been insipid, and bears scrutiny.
Last night’s 2-1 defeat, along with an agonising 1-0 loss away to Napoli and a scarcely believable 2-0 reverse in Belgrade, mean this season marks the first time in the history of the club’s Champions League participation that they’ve lost all three group stage away ties.
It’s perhaps the lack of chances created during those three games that is the most damning thing to take away, because of course results can turn on you on any given day.
Liverpool managed to turn just five shots on target across those three games, and James Milner’s penalty in Paris was their only goal to show for their efforts.
That, simply, is extraordinarily poor - especially when remembered in the context of the rampaging Reds side of last year who beat Hoffenheim, Maribor, Porto and Manchester City and drew with Spartak Moscow and Sevilla on their travels.
Manager Jurgen Klopp had asked for “big balls football” from his team, but in the end they couldn’t even muster the stones to give the 40-year-old Gianluigi Buffon a save to make from open play in the French capital.
Should they manage to turn the ship around next month and secure passage to the knockout rounds, this bout of travel sickness will need to be remedied sooner rather than later.
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