On Wednesday night Liverpool were held to a 1-1 draw by Napoli. The Reds could have guaranteed top spot in Group E had they beat the Italians at Anfield. The result means that Jürgen Klopp must head to Austria in December knowing that he cannot lose. Liverpool simply must beat Red Bull Salzburg on matchday six.
When we journey to Austria we are not even guaranteed of qualification from our group. If we were to lose against Jesse Marsch’s side and Napoli were to avoid defeat to Genk, then the Reds would drop into the Europa League due to their head to head record with Napoli.
If Jürgen Klopp’s side draw and Napoli win as expected then we will qualify second from the group. Liverpool simply must beat Red Bull Salzburg, winning the group is vital.
By topping our group we would avoid playing other group winners. At the moment Paris Saint Germain, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Juventus and Barcelona have all guaranteed top spot in their respective groups. If we finish second then we will likely face one of these sides.
If the Reds top Group E then we will face a second place side, this could be one of the weaker teams in the tournament, such as Zenit St. Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon or Dinamo Zagreb.
With Liverpool in the heat of a title race, drawing a weaker side in the first knockout round could prove vital in relieving pressure on the squad. We have shown that we can go out and blitz weaker sides in the first leg, effectively making the second leg a dead rubber.
If we can batter a smaller side and kill the tie then we can keep players fresh for Premier League games; Liverpool have to beat Red Bull Salzburg to make this a possibility.