Champions League team guide: Liverpool in the spotlight
With just five games of the 2020-21 Premier League campaign remaining, reigning champions Liverpool found themselves four points off of the top four with an inferior goal difference.
It appeared as though Joe Willock’s 95th-minute equaliser for Newcastle United at Anfield had all but guaranteed the Reds would miss out on Champions League football.
But then Jurgen Klopp’s side went on a remarkable run — picking up three points at Old Trafford for the first time under the German, beating West Brom with a last-minute Alisson goal before seeing off Southampton, Burnley and Crystal Palace.
In the end, they finished third — two points ahead of Chelsea and just five behind runners-up Manchester United.
Liverpool's Champions League group
Group B: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, FC Porto, AC Milan
The Reds are European royalty. Only Real Madrid (13) and AC Milan (seven) have won the European Cup or Champions League on more occasions than Liverpool (six).
Klopp guided his team to consecutive finals in 2018 and 2019, lifting the trophy in the latter with a 2-0 win over Tottenham.
Under the former Dortmund boss, they are regulars at Europe’s top table — featuring for the fifth successive season.
Prior to that, Liverpool had failed to make back-to back-appearances in the Champions League for eight years, with Rafael Benitez enjoying plenty of success in the late 2000s.
Liverpool fans always expect to go deep into this competition.
They have one of the strongest starting XIs in world football and Anfield under floodlights is a different beast entirely.
Last season, they lost to Real Madrid at the quarter-final stage and that is likely the bare minimum requirement this time around — especially if everyone in the squad remains fit.
Star man: Mohamed Salah
The Reds had arguably their worst season under Klopp last term, but Salah still netted 31 goals — that is a total he has only bettered once when he struck 44 times in 2017–18.
He was not solely responsible for their top-three finish but remained consistent while others saw their form impacted due to the numerous injuries suffered.
The 29-year-old is a menace in the Champions League and regularly nets in the knockout stages — scoring in the 2019 final.
Teams may find a way to stop Liverpool from imposing themselves in a game but that does not guarantee that Salah will not score.
One to watch: Harvey Elliott
The 18-year-old spent last season on loan with Blackburn and the expectation was that he would have another loan away from the club this year.
Klopp and his coaching team had other ideas, however, and the young forward has been reshaped into a midfielder.
He is expected to take Xherdan Shaqiri’s place in the squad, with the Switzerland international now a Lyon player.
Elliott was named in the starting XI for Liverpool’s games against Burnley and Chelsea early in the campaign and impressed.
The Fulham academy graduate has that wildcard factor about him and his unpredictability could be an asset in this year’s Champions League.
The boss: Jurgen Klopp
A serial finalist — three times if you include his spell with Borussia Dortmund — the German tactician finally lifted the trophy in 2019 after two final defeats.
Klopp also guided Liverpool to the Europa League and League Cup finals during his first season at the helm, as well as masterminding their 97-point Premier League season in 2018-19 — setting a new record for a points haul amassed by a runner-up.
The following year, the Reds ended their 30-year wait for a Premier League title, racking up a remarkable 99 points.
All information correct as of 10am, September 2, 2021