Scott Groom explains why facing Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League will not induce fear in Liverpool players this season.
It’s a mouth-watering prospect not only for Liverpool fans but for football fans worldwide. Jürgen Klopp’s side will twice come up against Paris Saint Germain in this season’s Champions League group stages in games that, on paper, promise to be pulsating encounters.
Fresh from their heartache in Kiev in last season’s final, many people will be backing the Reds to go far again this term, but they will face tough tests against both PSG and Napoli just to get out of their group.
PSG will be the team that many will point to as Liverpool’s main threat – but Liverpool have no reason to fear them and here’s why.
PSG play in a similar style to City
With their combative defence, engine room of a midfield and flair in attack, PSG present a similar threat to that of Manchester City. This won’t worry Klopp, who has gotten the better of Guardiola’s men on the majority of occasions that the sides have met in recent times.
PSG may think that they can come out and attack Liverpool as City have done previously, but we’ve all seen the devastation that this team can cause when the spring and hit teams on the counter-attack.
You would think that the French side wouldn’t be so naïve as to do so, but you wouldn’t put it past them to try when they have such an array of attacking talent at their disposal.
However should they choose this option, Liverpool could undo them and expose them.
Liverpool can hurt any team in world football
And that’s where PSG need to be careful of Liverpool. The triple threat of Salah, Mané and Firmino is enough to give any defender nightmares, and when you consider the array of goals they all scored in last season’s road to Kiev, it’s not hard to see why.
The three of them have been giving teams a hard time for quite a while now, but nobody seems to have a definite formula as to how to stop them, so PSG may too have a problem.
Add into this mix the additions of Xherdan Shaqiri and Naby Keita, along with a fit-again Daniel Sturridge and Robertson and Alexander-Arnold flying down the wing, and the threats don’t stop coming.
Look at the way Liverpool dismantled City, Shakhtar and Roma last year – some more of Europe’s elite may well be in for similar treatment this term. And let’s not forget that until things really started to work against Liverpool, they were more than a match for Real Madrid in that ill-fated final.
PSG are good in attack, but Liverpool have improved defensively
We speak about how good PSG’s attack is and we’re right to as they will inevitably pose Liverpool problems but the Reds are not the same team defensively as they were even six months ago.
There seems to be a new found confidence and authority about Klopp’s side, and that may well be massively down to the influence of Virgil van Dijk and new shot-stopper, Allison Becker. Despite the big money additions of these two players, those around them have improved and stepped up to the plate, making the defensive unit stronger.
You have to give Klopp credit for clearly working more carefully on his defence and tactics to help his side stay more resolute, as well as splashing the cash when improvements in personnel were clearly needed.
The joy of it all is from a Liverpool perspective, things are only going to get better and continue to improve as the players spend more time together and build better partnerships. Although, rival fans (PSG followers included) might not be so thrilled to hear this.
Last season’s road to Kiev will help this time around
Yes, Kiev was a mightily disappointing occasion for everyone associated with Liverpool Football Club. There’s no escaping that.
The anticipation and excitement and vibe from the Club going into the final was something that fans have been missing for a long time, and it was devastating to get so close to fall at the final hurdle.
However disappointing it was, Liverpool will have gained far more than they lost on their way to Kiev.
They have the big game experience now, particularly that of playing in a major final. They have been into fierce atmospheres and not been phased by what they’ve faced to get the job done. The only thing missing is that winner’s medal and another trophy in the cabinet.
This will most likely be the driving force behind the team this time around, determined to make amends for what happened last time. This makes Liverpool even more dangerous, and also even more resolute.
There will be tests along the way, PSG being a major one at the very first hurdle, but as the old saying goes: if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best.
Liverpool can do that. I’m confident of that.