The Champions League is fast approaching, with the holders in action on September 17th, but what shape are Liverpool’s squad in and who awaits them in Group E?
The reigning champions didn’t necessarily get drawn in the easiest group – it will be a challenge, but one this Liverpool squad is certainly up for. Group E consists of the Reds, Napoli, Red Bull Salzburg, and Genk. Napoli are definitely the toughest competition from this bunch and should provide a tough test.
However, the bookies have Liverpool as third favourites to win the whole competition, so fans should feel confident they’ll escape the group unscathed. William Hill have Klopp’s squad at 7/1 alongside Juventus and Real Madrid with Barcelona and Man City the second and first favourites respectively – but what do you think Liverpool’s chances are against their group opposition?
As discussed, Napoli look like the strongest opposition in this group, with Carlo Ancelotti focusing on consistency, keeping much of last season’s squad together for this season. As Napoli look to make it past the group stage for the first time since 2016/17, keep an eye on forward Arkadiusz Milik – he could be the key for the Italian side and a handful for the Reds backline.
Red Bull Salzburg
Before this campaign Salzburg had been knocked out during the qualifying stages of the previous six Champions League competitions. Despite this unfortunate record, the Austrian side have had an incredible run of domestic success and shouldn’t be completely written off.
If there’s a striker that could cause Van Dijk problems, it’s the young and tall Norwegian Erling Braut Håland – he’s certainly one to watch and will be known to British fans as the son of ex Nottingham Forest, Leeds and Manchester City player – and Roy Keane nemesis – Alf-Inge Håland.
The Belgian side are renowned for producing incredibly talented footballers, including Liverpool’s Divock Origi. However the team have lost some big players and their coach from last season, so could struggle this campaign.
Genk’s key player is the young holding midfield star Sander Berge – the Norwegian international has been a regular since joining from Vålerenga and looks set for even bigger things.
Spotlight on Liverpool
Having looked at Liverpool’s opposition, let’s take a look at the talent the Jurgen Klopp has at his disposal. The Reds lineup has been entered for the 2019/20 competition – and it’s an extremely strong squad including the following players:
List A: Alisson, Elliott, Firmino, Salah, Gomez, Henderson, Keita, Lallana, Lonergan, Lovren, Mane, Matip, Milner, Origi, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Robertson, Adrian, Shaqiri, Fabinho, Van den Berg, Van Dijk, Wijnaldum.
List B: Alexander-Arnold, Brewster, Jones, Kane, Kelleher, Larouci, Lewis.
What’s exciting for Liverpool fans is that this squad is overflowing with a mixture of world-class talent and up and coming youngsters. Providing Liverpool stay injury-free and manage their talent sensibly this season, Klopp has a wealth of options including Van Dijk, Salah, Firmino and Mané which would make followers feel confident they can top the group.
Regaining a quality player such as Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain after recovering from injury provides another boost for the midfield. Plus lots of the younger players from last year’s squad have the potential to improve even more – something they’ve already shown in strong start to the Premier League season.
All competitions are in the sights of Klopp and Liverpool, and with this squad, anything is possible. For now, the manager won’t be looking beyond the group – but the signs are good that this is a hurdle that can be overcome.