Chelsea and Liverpool look to secure Champions League knockout qualification

It's a big night for the English clubs in Europe on Wednesday, as both Liverpool and Chelsea head into tough ties with fate in their own hands, Joel Sanderson-Murray writes.

Joel Sanderson-Murray

Both Chelsea and Liverpool can seal their places in the last-16 of the UEFA Champions League when they take to the field in their respective fixtures on Wednesday night.

The two English sides hold the possibility of qualification in their own hands if they do their jobs but they are certainly not going to find it easy.

Chelsea have a tough trip to Valencia to deal with, while the current holders of the competition Liverpool play host to Italian side Napoli at Anfield.

It will still take a strong performance from Frank Lampard’s side if they are to ensure they have an interest in the Champions League in the new year.

Their group is the one which the most delicately balanced going into Matchday 5 with three teams all on seven points with it all to play for.

With Ajax taking a trip to Lille, the bottom side in the group, focus will be on the Mestalla as it is pretty much ‘do or die’ for Chelsea.

“It is a big test but we do not mind that,” Lampard said in his press conference ahead of the game.

“It’s a must-not-lose game, it doesn’t mean we are out if we lose , but it puts us in a very difficult position.”

A win by two or more clear goals would see Chelsea qualify on the head-to-head rule with Valencia then having to go to Ajax on the last day needing a result. Even if Lampard’s side claim a draw in Spain, they would still have their fate in their own hands going into the final day to an extent, although in that circumstance should it come down to a Valencia and Chelsea shootout – the Spaniards would then hold the advantage in the head-to-heads.

Frank Lampard


Liverpool facing Napoli at Anfield where a win would see the Reds book their place in the last-16 of the Champions League? Is it last season?

A Mohamed Salah goal followed by a dramatic late save by Alisson sealed a 1-0 win for Liverpool over Carlo Ancelotti’s men last December which meant the eventual competition winners qualified for the knockout stages.

Football has a funny way of repeating itself and here we are again, with the Premier League leaders knowing a win over their familiar foes would result in the same eventuality this time round.

It remains to be seen whether last year’s match-winner will be able to have the opportunity to recreate his heroics on Wednesday, with the Egyptian having missed his team’s 2-1 win over Crystal Palace at the weekend due to a persistent ankle injury.

Napoli have their own injury problems with captain and marksman Lorenzo Insigne missing the clash, where a defeat could put them under intense pressure to qualify should Red Bull Salzburg, as expected, beat Genk.

A victory would also top spot for Jurgen Klopp’s men, and the German is calling on Anfield to create an atmosphere that will help the Reds get over the line.

“We all need to get on our toes again and create a very, very special atmosphere.

“We should never take it for granted, we don’t take it for granted, people shouldn’t take it for granted. We have to be there 100 per cent spot on and do the best we can,” Klopp said to ahead of the game.

The stats don’t look promising for the visitors, with Liverpool unbeaten at home since 2017.


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