Four English clubs are in the last-16 of the Champions League, after Liverpool and Tottenham secured their qualification last night. They follow the lead of Manchester City and Manchester United, who qualified with a game to spare. Liverpool got the job done with a 1-0 win against Napoli at Anfield, while Tottenham managed to get a draw against Barcelona at the Nou Camp to send themselves through.
Liverpool have Mo Salah and Alisson to thank for their progression. Salah scored the only goal of the game, while Alisson made an absolutely huge save in the last minute. If he hadn’t saved it, the Reds would have been going out because they’d have needed two goals in a matter of minutes. He’s really showing his worth now, as he’s coming up with some really big saves.
As soon as I saw that Jurgen Klopp had gone with James Milner, Jordan Henderson and Gini Wijnaldum in midfield, I had my doubts. He keeps going back to the old reliables, but Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri have shown that they’re worthy of starting. I don’t expect all three to start, but maybe even two of them alongside Milner or Wijnaldum. In the end, Klopp got it right, but it would be nice to see him be more positive in future.
Liverpool and PSG have qualified from that group, as Napoli go out because they scored less goals than Liverpool. It’s a very harsh way for them to go out, as they looked really good in some of their games, but that’s how it goes.
Tottenham had Harry Kane and Lucas Moura to thank for their win against Barcelona. Trailing 1-0, Kane pulled the ball across the face of the goal, and Lucas finished past Jasper Cillessen to draw Spurs level with five minutes to play at the Nou Camp. That draw, combined with Inter’s failure to beat PSV at the San Siro, sends Spurs through. Barcelona rotated heavily for the game, which played into Spurs’ hands. Inter won’t be too impressed by that, as they go out. They’ll feel that Barcelona would have beaten them if they had put their stars out.
But Inter only have themselves to blame, as if they had beaten PSV, they would have went through and Tottenham would have been out. I watched the last few minutes of that one after Tottenham drew level, and they were fairly bad. The drama was unbelievable, though. I’d say the Tottenham fans could hardly breath as they waited for news of the Inter game to come through! Not many would have expected both Liverpool and Tottenham to go through at this time yesterday, but they did it. At one stage, it wouldn’t have been surprising if Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and Tottenham were all in the Europa League, but that’s not the case.
Fair play to both of them!
The two Manchester clubs are in action tonight. Manchester City host Hoffenheim, while Manchester United are away to Valencia. They’ve both already qualified, so expect heavy rotation from both. I’m not going to go into detail about those games as they don’t really matter.
I’m going to leave it there for this morning. If you’re a Liverpool or Tottenham fan, congratulations! I’ll be back tomorrow with more. Hope you have a good Wednesday.