Winning the Premier League last season was a magnificent achievement, especially after such a dominant campaign, although the pinnacle of European football remains winning the Champions League, which Liverpool did triumphantly at the 2019 final in Madrid.
Insofar as chances of winning the competition again, well, Liverpool are once again being quoted with some of the best UEFA Champions League odds for the 2020-21 campaign – they were trending at around 1.74 favourites for their group games. That confidence from bookmakers is undoubtedly buoyed by impressive performances, winning all three of the opening three Group D games and without conceding a single goal.
Taking on Ajax away in the first game was always going to be a tricky challenge, and while it was hardly a classic display by any stretch of the imagination, Liverpool defended stoutly at the Johan Cruyff Arena. In the end, an own-goal by Nicolás Taliafico was enough to secure all three points for a winning start to the group phase.
FT: Liverpool 2 – 0 FC Midtjylland
It wasn’t pretty, there were only two shots on target the whole game, but Jota and Salah’s goals were enough.
Two wins out of two in the #UCL for Liverpool.
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) October 27, 2020
For the next encounter against FC Midtjylland, it’s fair to say that Jurgen Klopp took some calculated risks with his starting eleven, resting several key players to keep them fresh for Premier League games. Liverpool were largely dominant but lacked cutting edge in the final third of the pitch, as the Danish outfit resisted. Diogo Jota managed to break the deadlock, before Mohamed Salah left the bench, scoring from the penalty spot in stoppage time.
If the first two games were simply a matter of getting the job done, Liverpool returned to their utterly ruthless best against Atalanta. The Reds travelled to Italy on the back of a hard-fought 2-1 Premier League win against West Ham, and while there were, again, rotations, Klopp went with a much stronger starting eleven in Europe this time.
Despite finishing third in Serie A for the last two seasons and being one of the surprise packages in Europe, there was little resistance Atalanta could offer. Diogo Jota was in unstoppable form, banging in a superb hat-trick to continue his rich vein of scoring form. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane also got in on the act, along with providing assists, during the 5-0 thrashing handed to the Italians.
Having reached the midway point of the group phase, three wins to the good, with eight goals scored and none conceded, comfortably top of Group D, it’s fair to say that Liverpool are practically guaranteed their place in the knockout stage. This will certainly fill fans with confidence there’s another great Champions League run in the offing.
While no European rivals can ever be taken for granted, it’s perhaps fair to say that Liverpool have faced weaker competition in the group stage this time around, compared to previous campaigns. This season, it’s entirely possible for the Reds to maintain a perfect 100% winning record for all six games, should the team emerge from the final three games unscathed.
What’s more, if Liverpool can do that without conceding any goals, it will undoubtedly place them amongst the most feared opponents, one of the teams everyone else wants to avoid, when the draw for the Champions League Round of 16 is made in the middle of December.