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Klopp’s Liverpool Are Better Than Rodgers’ And They Will Top Their CL Group – Agreed?

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How Far Can Liverpool Progress In The Champions League

Liverpool fans have waited quite impatiently for a chance to play in the Champions League for the last two seasons. This will be their second appearance in the competition in 8 years, after brushing aside German side Hoffenheim 6-3 on aggregate in the qualifiers.

Having won against Hoffenheim, Liverpool drew Sevilla, Spartak Moscow and NK Maribor. They played their Champions League opener against Sevilla at Anfield, and it turned out to be a similar story. The hosts created chances but squandered, including a missed penalty by Roberto Firmino 10 minutes before half-time.

They were made to pay once more for their sloppy defending, as the Spaniards somehow equalised in the 72nd minute to stun the Kop. Their goal never looked like it was coming.

But the Liverpool of today are radically different from the side that failed to get past the group stages three years ago.

In 2014-15, Liverpool had just sold Luis Suarez to Barcelona, who had been the catalyst to their eventually failed roll at the title in 2013-14. As Suarez’s replacement, the club bought Rickie Lambert—incidentally a Liverpool fan since childhood—from Southampton. An ageing striker, Lambert was never going to be a Suarez and his time was up after just a season.

Liverpool tasted defeats at the hands of Real Madrid, which were expected, but an away loss along with a home draw against FC Basel and then an away draw against the minnows Ludogorets meant Brendon Rodgers’s side lacked quality to even get past the group stages.

However, this season, there is much more optimism and expectations among the Liverpool fans. In Jurgen Klopp, the Reds play a dazzling, attacking brand of football. They are simply deadly when it comes to attack and on their day, can thump any given team.

In Sadio Mane, Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah, Liverpool have pace, power, flair and the kind of movement that never allows defenders any degree of comfort. To add to the aforementioned attackers, there is Phillip Coutinho’s creativity and long-range thunderbolts. On Saturday, the Brazilian showed why Klopp thwarted the interest from Barcelona all summer, with an eye-catching display in Reds’ 3-2 victory over Leicester, where he created Salah’s goal and scored a peach of a free-kick.

But on the other end of the pitch, i.e. defence, Liverpool have looked vulnerable and shaky since the start of the Premier League season. On the opening day against Watford, they conceded three, while they were hit for five by the sensational Manchester City at Etihad, although it can be argued that Liverpool went a man down before conceding heavily.

Mohamed Salah

Defending has been Liverpool’s Achilles heel, and despite knowing the fact, it was surprising to see Klopp ignoring to address those issues. Liverpool chased Virgil Van Dijk, but dropped their interest when Southampton filed an official complaint to the Premier League for an alleged illegal approach. Also, Liverpool let Mamadou Sakho, their best defender according to many pundits, join Crystal Palace this summer.

Well, if defending wasn’t only the issue, according to club legend Graeme Souness, Liverpool lack the depth in the squad to cope with the double demands of Premier League and Champions League football.

“They had a clear run last year (a season without European football) but there’s no doubt about it more games means you need more players and I don’t think he’s got that strength in depth,” Souness said. “If they were to have a bad run of injuries and some key games came along it would hurt them badly,” he added.

Nevertheless, the club did sign Mohamed Salah, Dominic Solanke, Andy Robertson and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the summer window. However, on Tuesday, they travel Russia to face Spartak Moskva with an aim of collecting all three points, before visiting Maribor in October.

Klopp and his boys, with a modest group that includes Spartak Moscow and Maribor, are expected to top the group which in turn might lead to a slightly favourable draw in the round of 16.