Can Liverpool win the Champions League this season?
Liverpool’s Premier League title defence has ended in recent weeks, now some 13 points behind leaders Manchester City and having played a game extra.
In fact, Jurgen Klopp’s side are now battling to make sure they qualify for the Champions League next season, ending the weekend down in fourth and only one point above both Chelsea and West Ham United.
One way to qualify for Europe’s elite club cup competition is to win it. Something the Reds did just two years ago.
Liverpool’s Premier League title defence was hurt by defensive injuries, notably Virgil van Dijk in the opening weeks of the season. With the Merseyside club starting to get healthier they should not be ruled out of going the distance.
In fact, research from Betway in the graphic below shows that high valued squads usually end up winning the Champions League. And Liverpool have the highest-valued squad of the 16 remaining teams.
With a squad valued at €1.1 billion we’re narrowly ahead of Manchester City (€1.06bn) but both comfortably ahead of defending champions Bayern Munich in third, at €891.4m.
The Reds comfortably qualified from the group stage, which included facing Atalanta and Ajax, and whilst their front three haven’t been firing on all cylinders in recent weeks, they still have 30 Premier League goals between them. The injured Diogo Jota has five too.
It’s the defence that needs work heading into the latter stages of European competition. Alisson has been at fault for goals in his past two Premier League games, whilst midfielders Fabinho and Jordan Henderson have been partnering in the middle of a back four.
The Champions League returns this week and Liverpool are one of the first four teams in action as they travel to Hungary to take on RB Leipzig in the Round of 16. The second leg at Anfield isn’t for another three weeks after.
Being out of the Premier League title race can help Jurgen Klopp focus more on the Champions League, but the German coach won’t want to rotate his squad too heavily domestically as a top four finish is a must.
Bookmaker Betway have Liverpool as the third favourites to win the 2020-21 Champions League – with odds of 15/2, only Bayern Munich and Manchester City have a shorter price (both 3/1).
Indeed, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus looking far short of their performances in recent seasons it’s hard to see too many sides outside of the three favourites getting their hands on the trophy this season, perhaps with the exception of last season’s runners-up Paris Saint-Germain.
Provided they don’t slip up in the Round of 16 versus RB Leipzig over the next three weeks then anything is possible for this Liverpool side under Klopp. That gives them more than a month to get back to their best, and we know from their recent trophy successes that Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino are hard to contain when they’re at their best.