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Liverpool Continue Impressive Form in Defence of Champions League

Liverpool started the season, not only as defending champions, but also as one of the favourites for the Champions league title.

 

Prior to the competition starting, The Reds were a general 8/1 to retain their title, after a remarkable 2-0 victory over Spurs in last season’s showpiece at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Punters across the globe saw value in this inflated price, and after a solid start to their defence in Group E, they’ve been backed in to 5/1 second favourites with most bookies, behind English Champions Man City – a price that seems appealing given their recent success in the competition. They currently sit top of their table, ahead of Napoli, and are a general 2/9 to top the group.

 

Liverpool started the competition with a  difficult away trip to Italy, facing the aforementioned Italian outfit at the Stadio San Paolo. The venue is widely regarded as one of the most difficult in Europe for travelling sides, and so it proved, as the reds were beaten 2-0. It was a closely contested game, with the home side picking up two late goals through Dries Mertens and former Tottenham star, Fernando Llorente.

 

On matchday two, Liverpool welcomed Red Bull Salzburg to Anfield, as they looked to maintain their formidable record at Anfield in the competition. The Reds appeared to be heading for a routine victory, as goals from Sadio Mane, Andy Robinson and Mohamed Salah put them 3-0 up after just 36 minutes. Hwang Hee-chan then responded for the Austrian champions, as Liverpool took a 3-1 lead into half-time.

 

Just 11 minutes of the second half had passed when Salzburg pulled another goal back through Takumi Minamino, before they incredibly made it 3-3 just four minutes later. The match looked like it could be heading towards one of the biggest upsets in the competition’s history, before Salah picked up his second on the night and the three points for Liverpool with a 4-3 victory.

 

Next up saw Liverpool travel to Belgium to face off against Genk. As expected, the reds were the strong favourites to take maximum points and duly obliged with an impressive 4-1 victory. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain continued his excellent run of form following a lengthy injury, with a brace - the second of which put Liverpool ahead after just two minutes. Both Sadio Mane and Mohamed Salah also got on the scoresheet, before the home side scored a consolation goal late on.

 

The return leg against Genk back at Anfield followed most recently, with Liverpool looking to all but seal their progression to the knock out stages of the competition. Several first team regulars were rested, with the huge Premier league clash against Manchester City upcoming – this included the likes of captain Jordan Henderson, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino. The missing players were noticeable on the night, as Liverpool produced a relatively flat performance, but ultimately prevailed as 2-1 winners.

 

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain was again on the scoresheet as he netted the winner after 53 minutes, converting a low strike into the bottom corner. This earnt him the man of the match trophy, as Liverpool pushed their unbeaten record at home in European competition to 24 matches – a staggering run of form that includes 18 wins and six draws, with the last defeat coming against Real Madrid back in October of 2014.

 

The victory now means Liverpool have won three straight games in the Champions League and are in a very strong position to top the Group, further enhanced with Napoli only drawing at home to Red Bull Salzburg. However, one negative is that the reds again conceded, meaning that it is now eight games in succession without a clean sheet. Next up for Liverpool will see them welcome the Italians to Anfield, in what is likely to be the game that decides who finishes top of Group E, with just one point separating the two sides at present.


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