Liverpool travel to France to take on Paris Saint-Germain in a crucial Champions League group stage encounter on Wednesday (20:00 GMT, live on BT Sport).
Things are interestingly poised in Group C ahead of the final two matchdays. Napoli and Liverpool are joint top, on six points apiece, with PSG a point behind in third, and Red Star Belgrade a further point adrift at the bottom. All four teams could still qualify.
Liverpool find themselves in a trickier position than they would have liked at this stage of the group. They have done more or less as expected against the strongest two teams, winning at home to PSG and losing away at Napoli, but would be much better placed to qualify had they been able to take a full six points from Red Star Belgrade.
Instead, a 4-0 win at home was followed by a 0-2 loss in Belgrade. Liverpool’s hosts made a confident start and shot into a two-goal lead inside the opening half-hour. Liverpool were greatly improved following Firmino’s introduction at half-time and probably created enough chances to get back into the match, but none were taken and so they fell to defeat.
That leaves Jurgen Klopp’s side with the task of securing sufficient points to qualify from Wednesday’s trip to Paris and their home encounter against Napoli in their final match of the group. Victory away to PSG would confirm their place in the last 16 as long as Red Star don’t win away to Napoli, but a draw, especially defeat would most likely require a full three points from their home concluder against Napoli to see them through.
If Liverpool find themselves in a delicate situation, their hosts in midweek are on the precipice of disaster. PSG have underperformed in the Champions League in recent years, especially given the consistently lavish spending of their Qatari owners. They have gone no further than the quarter-finals and suffered round-of-16 eliminations in each of the last two seasons, but they have never failed to make it out of their group.
The club are again dominating domestically under the guidance of new head coach Thomas Tuchel. Saturday’s 1-0 win at home to Toulouse was their 14th in 14 matches, they have averaged well over three goals per match and have already opened up a gap of double figures to their closest challengers. Things have been very different in Europe.
PSG dominated Red Star in a 6-1 home victory, but picked up just two points from their trip to Anfield and matches home and away to Napoli. Neither were they particularly unfortunate to do so. Indeed, their situation would have been even worse had Angel Di Maria not produced an injury time equaliser for a 2-2 draw in their home encounter with Napoli.
The quality in their forward line is unquestionable, but certain issues in midfield and defence were not addressed during the summer transfer window. While they still have more than enough talent to comfortably win the French league, it is difficult to see this PSG side putting together a deep run in Europe, even if they are able to make it out of the group.
Liverpool will seek to put an end to those hopes on Wednesday. Their chances of doing so looked to have increased when PSG’s Neymar and Kylian Mbappe both picked up injuries on international duty that put their participation in doubt. However, Tuchel seems fairly confident that both will now be involved in some capacity.
That means that two of the most potent attacks in Europe will again be pitted against one another in a match that will hopefully produce some of the back-and-forth excitement of the first encounter between the sides back in September.
While the result of that one could eventually have gone either way, it was Liverpool who exerted more control over proceedings. The individual brilliance that PSG possess means that even a momentary lapse in concentration can be decisive. Liverpool, who warmed up for the match with a 3-0 win away to Watford on Saturday, should still be considered the most likely victors. That is also a result that would probably be good enough to see them through.