Something has to give when two teams who have made perfect starts to the new campaign meet as Liverpool host Paris Saint-Germain in the opening match of their Champions League group at Anfield on Tuesday (8pm, live on BT Sport).
Liverpool opened a top-flight campaign with five consecutive victories for the first time since 1990 with a 2-1 win away at Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday. Goals from Georginio Wijnaldum and Roberto Firmino saw them to victory despite Spurs pulling one back late on.
Jurgen Klopp’s side had a few problems dealing with the movement of Christian Eriksen during the first half, but Wijnaldum’s goal five minutes before the interval seemed to settle them, and they looked in control for most of the second period. It was a performance that underlined their status as strong challengers for the Premier League title.
The prolific forward trio of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane notched 91 goals between them in all competitions last season and have begun the new campaign in similar style, with eight goals in five matches. New signing Naby Keita has brought renewed energy and invention to the midfield zone, while a relatively young defensive unit is growing in confidence and stability.
In short, Liverpool are worthy of their status as the second favourites with the top bookies, behind holders Manchester City, to win the league title and have a team who should be capable of again performing well in the Champions League. Klopp’s side reached last year’s final, only to lose out, 1-3, to Real Madrid in Kiev, although a difficult group-stage draw means they will need to be sharp from the get-go this time around.
Group B features not only Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain, but also Napoli, who pushed Juventus all the way in last season’s Serie A title race and are now coached by ex-Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti. Red Star Belgrade are the unfortunate fourth occupants of a group that is likely to be very closely contested at its top end.
PSG are Liverpool’s first opponents and they too have made an impressive start to the season, scoring three or more goals in all six of their matches to date. They put four past Monaco to lift the French Super Cup before recording five consecutive victories to kick off the defence of their Ligue 1 crown. The latest was a 4-0 thrashing of Saint Etienne on Friday.
Despite the absences of the rested Neymar and suspended Kylian Mbappe, PSG brushed off a shaky start to record a comfortable victory, eventually, in the Parc des Princes, with a first-half strike from Julian Draxler and further goals after the break from Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria and substitute Moussa Diaby. That saw Thomas Tuchel become the first coach in the club’s history to begin his reign with six wins on the bounce.
There has been little so far to indicate that Tuchel is likely to veer from the heavily attack-minded approach he employed during his time at the helm of Borussia Dortmund. With the forward talent that he has at his disposal, he has every reason to be confident in his side’s ability to outscore the large majority of opponents, but PSG will certainly be a side who give their rivals some opportunities on the break.
Under Klopp, Liverpool have evolved into a team who are perfectly happy to take the initiative but who also remain a potent counter-attacking force, with a great deal of pace and incisiveness up front. They will hope to assert control over Tuesday’s match, but there is every chance it will turn into an entertaining, back-and-forth shootout between the two forward lines: Salah, Firmino and Mane versus Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani.
Our Preview’s Liverpool vs. Paris Saint-Germain Betting Tips Verdict
Klopp has had much more time to ingrain his ideas at Anfield than Tuchel, his German compatriot and his successor at Dortmund, has in Paris. That might just provide Liverpool with enough of an edge to secure a winning start to their Champions League campaign.
- Bet on Liverpool to win @ best odds of 5/4 with Betfair.