The last two years of Champions League action have made for a wonderful story for Liverpool. The 2017/18 campaign saw the club emerge as a rising European power behind the sensational breakthrough of Mo Salah, and last season we saw Liverpool’s power fully realised in a Champions League victory. Now, as we face down a loaded 2019/20 knock-out round, one question remains: Can the Reds repeat as Champions League winners?
It’s arguably the most difficult accomplishment in club football, and before Real Madrid won three consecutive Champions League trophies from 2015 through 2018, no one had done it since Milan at the tail end of the 1980s. Looking at the action ahead though, there are some legitimate reasons to believe Liverpool is equal to the task.
1. An Uneventful Transfer Window
With the winter transfer window having just wrapped up, we can look around at other top clubs remaining in the Champions League and state fairly that no one looks to have improved measurably. Barcelona failed to shore up its depth at striker with Luis Suarez on uneven ground; Atletico Madrid couldn’t find a way to acquire Edinson Cavani despite his rumoured desire to play there; Real Madrid and Bayern Munich did little to bolster their first teams. And most importantly, perhaps, Manchester City more or less stood pat, earning negative marks in one transfer window recap for its decision to wait until the summer to seek an upgrade at centre back.
Arguably the most significant move made among the remaining Champions League teams was Borussia Dortmund’s signing of the rising star Erling Haaland – and even this likely kept Haaland away from some more threatening competitors (with Barcelona, Bayern, Barcelona, and Man City said to have had some interest). All in all though, only Dortmund secured a significant upgrade, which in theory means no one jumped Liverpool in relative contender status.
2. The Premier League Odds
It’s not news to anyone following European football at the moment that Liverpool is a runaway favourite in Premier League. But it may not have registered with everyone yet just how far in front the Reds are. As per the latest betting odds on the EPL, Liverpool is being listed as something like a mathematical lock. The bookmakers, as of this writing, are giving the club 1/100 odds to win the league, with Manchester City next in line as a 250/1 long shot. Odds like that don’t mean Liverpool is the only possible winner – but they just about indicate that it’s the only conceivable winner at this point.
So why, then, do other bookmaker listings tend to have Liverpool behind another club or two in Champions League odds? In part it might be a function of the matchups. Liverpool will first have to get past Atletico Madrid, and the difficulty of that opening matchup may simply make the Reds less likely to go further despite being arguably the best team. However, it may also be a result of the notion that domestic leaders occasionally give less than their full attention to Champions League play – which should not be the case this season. With the betting odds indicating the Premier League is all but sewn up, Liverpool can and should direct its full focus toward repeating as Champions League winners.
3. Pure Quality
Most important is the simplest fact: Liverpool’s squad quality is as good or better than that of any other club in Europe. It’s easy to lose sight of this over the course of a season, particularly when flashy transfer rumours such as Kylian Mbappé’s interest in Liverpool or club discussions about Timo Werner are floating about. Additionally, virtually any Champions League Round of 16 draw can look rather daunting at the outset. But above all else, Liverpool’s best hopes to repeat rest on the likelihood that it is, once again, the class of Europe.