Tottenham and Liverpool will both have to win their final group games if they want to be in with any chance of qualifying for the round of 16 of this season’s Champions League. However, it won’t be easy with both teams facing tough fixtures to decide their fates.
There has been much debate surrounding the attacking prowess of Liverpool and their opponents tonight, PSG. Which team has the better front 3? Even after considering stats and all the other factors that would contribute, it’s almost impossible to answer that question. Stats would suggest that PSG’s attack is superior scoring more goals than anyone this season but that may be expected when we consider the opposition they are facing week in week out. It’s generally accepted that the French Ligue 1 is of a much lower standard than that of the Premier League with PSG facing virtually no competition.
Perhaps then, the best way to compare the two sides is via head-to-head matches and it was the French side who came out on top tonight. Whilst they were not as prolific as they have been domestically this season, Liverpool were unable to keep the feared front three quiet with Neymar scoring in a 2-1 victory for the Parisians. Liverpool only scored themselves through a James Milner penalty right before half time displaying limited impact from Mane, Salah and Firmino. Consequently, the reds find themselves 3rd in the group requiring a win against leaders Napoli. Even if they do manage to win this game it is unlikely that they will overtake PSG who face already knocked out Red Star; a win securing them first place if Liverpool win or draw. Liverpool fans won’t be thinking about anything beyond their final group game but tough opposition looks to be on the horizon if they do make it that far.
Now, Liverpool’s current situation in the Champions League isn’t really ideal, that’s obvious, but at least their final game is at home. They’ll have their faithful fans backing them all the way as they look to clinch all three points from a must-win game. Unfortunately, this isn’t a luxury Tottenham posses within their group. Despite beating Inter Milan 1-0 tonight, Spurs are currently 2nd, level on points and goal difference with the Italian giants. This may not seem seem so bad in itself, right? Wrong! Tottenham face a trip to the Camp Nou to play Lionel Messi and co in their final group game. Given that Inter are at home to PSV Eindhoven, a side with only one point from 5 games, it’s difficult to see the Milan side getting anything other than a win at the San Siro meaning Tottenham will have to beat Barcelona if they want to have any chance of qualifying.
Yet, there is a glimmer of hope for Spurs fans! Barcelona have already secured top spot meaning they seemingly have nothing to play for in their game against Tottenham. Valverde may take the opportunity to rest a few key players, especially with the Spanish side not finding domestic football as much of a cruise as it normally is this season. This factor could play into Pochettino’s hands as he looks to ensure his side score as many as possible to enhance their goal difference. Still, you have to feel that it will be much easier for Inter to win at home by a large margin against PSV than it will for Tottenham away to Barcelona. Spurs will be going into the game odds-on favourites to finish third in the group.
So, if you support Liverpool and you’re feeling a bit sorry for yourself after tonight’s result, just remember things could be worse. You could be a Spurs fan jubilant after grabbing a late winner against one of Italy’s best teams only to have all that happiness crushed at the final hurdle (probably). Personally, I’d be overjoyed if Tottenham were to finish third in the group; North London derby in the Europa League final anyone?