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Liverpool could face some tough sides in knockout round of the Champions League – but here is why they can beat them all

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Alisson saves from Arkadiusz Milik

Alisson saves brilliantly for Liverpool

Liverpool did it the hard way, but they did it. The Merseyside club made it into the last 16 of the Champions League with a 1-0 win over Napoli, and there were some heart-stopping moments along the way.

From Sadio Mane’s misses to Alisson’s big save in stoppage, this match certainly lived up to its billing and Anfield was a bundle of energy pushing the Reds towards victory.

In all honesty, Liverpool should have won this game by a comfortable margin, but things are never easy for us.

Our poor away form saw us lose all three group games not held at Anfield, and this played a huge role in us finishing second in the group behind PSG.

Last season, we topped the group and we got a decent tie in the first knockout game with a trip to Porto. Of course, the Estadio do Dragao is a difficult place to visit but we won the first-leg 5-0.

Expecting something similar seems a bit of a stretch, given who all we could face in the first knockout round.

Tough tie awaits Liverpool

Finishing second means we will face one of the other group winners in this season’s competition. We can’t face a Premier League side as UEFA rules prohibit same country teams meeting in the first knockout round, and our possible opponents could be:

Borussia Dortmund, Barcelona, Porto, Bayern Munich/Ajax, Lyon, Real Madrid/Roma, Juventus.

That makes for some tough games, and if things work in our favour we could be drawn against a Porto or Ajax, but that’s wishful thinking.

There is another issue we have to keep in mind with Virgil van Dijk missing the first leg of the knockout round due to his yellow card against Napoli.

Liverpool have been excellent in the Premier League but their performances in Europe haven’t been outstanding this season.

However, to progress, they need to get some things right.

Liverpool need to tweak things to get the best out of the side

Jurgen Klopp has tweaked a lot with his formation this season, and it has worked more often than not. Shifting from the crazy heavy metal 4-3-3 last season, the German has deployed a safer 4-2-3-1 with Mohamed Salah leading the line and Roberto Firmino playing behind the Egyptian.

This pragmatic approach makes it difficult for teams to break us down but our attack isn’t as fluid as it was last season.

The Reds struggled with their 4-3-3 in Europe this season, and some of our worst displays actually came with this formation in use.

James Milner Liverpool

Looking at the opposition, only the likes of Real Madrid, Juventus and Barcelona should scare the Reds. We have a decent record against Borussia Dortmund with that magical night in the Europa League a couple of years ago.

Further, Bayern Munich aren’t the dominant force they were under Pep Guardiola and have already lost three Bundesliga games this season.

The Reds should keep playing their 4-2-3-1 formation and possibly field Naby Keita in behind Roberto Firmino.

The Guinea midfielder has the guile and ability to run past defences with his dribbling, while Firmino can stretch any defence with his movement.

Shifting Salah out wide to the right might be a risk after his exploits down the middle, but this makes us play similar to what we did last season.

The Egyptian was brilliant down the right against Napoli and he seems to be hitting form at the right moment.

Mohamed Salah Virgil van Dijk Liverpool

The trio of attackers need to find their verve, and fortunately, we seem to be heading on the right track if the last few games are taken into consideration.

The midfield is where we should see more change with Fabinho starting more games in Europe alongside Jordan Henderson.

The Brazilian is a shield to our defence but is capable of threading the needle too. The pair of Fabinho and Keita have been picking up in recent games, and their partnership will be crucial in our Champions League run.

Naby Keita of Liverpool

We have toned down the Gegenpressing in the first half of the season, but that surely has to change once we face some of the tougher sides.

The defence and our goalkeeper are possibly the best in England, and one of the best in Europe, so we aren’t worried about that.

The Reds are in great touch now, and qualifying for the knockout round will have given us more confidence.

Read more: “Wasted ~100 seconds. He’s living in 2030” – Some Liverpool fans react hilariously to forward’s struggles against Napoli

We beat Napoli at home, we beat PSG at home, and frankly, we shouldn’t worry about who we face in the next round.

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Why a move for this Argentine star would take Liverpool’s attack to the next level

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Paulo Dybala

Paulo Dybala

Liverpool opinion: Why signing Paulo Dybala would be incredible for Liverpool’s attack

Argentine sensation Paulo Dybala has been linked with a move as Liverpool consider a summer bid for the Juventus star, according to Tuttosport (h/t Liverpool Echo).

The 25-year-old joined the Italian giants from Palermo and has gone from strength to strength in Turin.

Dybala has won the Serie A thrice with Juventus and also has three Coppa Italia titles to his name. The 25-year-old is yet to win something with the national side, but that is a different story.

Liverpool could do with more options in attack

The Argentine is one of the brightest sparks in the Serie A, but he hasn’t been prolific in front of the net this season.

Dybala only has nine goals in all competitions with four assists in this campaign, and the limelight has focused on Cristiano Ronaldo since the move from Real Madrid.

Liverpool, on the other hand, have had a fantastic season with several players chipping in. Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane have 17 goals each in the Premier League. Virgil van Dijk is one of the best defenders in the world while Alisson has done his bit in keeping us in the title race.

However, the Reds need to bring in quality options for their front three.

Roberto Firmino, Salah and Mane are great as a trio but as soon as one of them is injured, we end up losing a lot of attacking ability.

Divock Origi and Daniel Sturridge are decent players but they don’t have the same impact on the pitch as the trio.

Divock Origi of Liverpool

Divock Origi scores for Liverpool against Everton

Dybala has the ability to play across the front-line or just behind the striker and would be that addition that takes our attack to the next level.

It would provide Jurgen Klopp scope to mix things around with the attack, and also allow the German to rest the attackers in certain games.

The Reds have been extremely reliant on Salah over the past year, and his lack of goals in recent weeks has been taken care off by Mane’s brilliant form.

Read more Liverpool news, click here – Latest Liverpool news

The Argentine is young, tenacious and has the quality to shine for a team like ours. It will be interesting to see if Juventus are willing to deal with us for the attacker, but there is no doubt Dybala would increase the competition for places at Liverpool and could raise the game of the other players.

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“I try to look at this player and reach that level” – Premier League sensation dreams of reaching Mohamed Salah’s level

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Latest Liverpool news: Eden Hazard wants to emulate good friend Mohamed Salah

Chelsea attacker Eden Hazard is having another fruitful season at Chelsea. The Belgian has scored 13 times and has 11 assists to his name this season in the Premier League.

The former Lille man was speaking with NBC sports and claimed that Mohamed Salah is one of the players he tries to emulate (h/t Liverpool Echo):

“Mo Salah is one of my good friends and he is doing something incredible.

“I try to look at this player and I try to reach that level.”

The 28-year-old has been the star for Chelsea over many years while Salah has done incredibly well since signing from AS Roma.

Salah has 24 goals in all competitions this season with 17 in the Premier League.

Mohamed Salah of Liverpool

Mohamed Salah

Salah helping Liverpool towards glory

The Egyptian broke several scoring records last season as we reached the Champions League final against Real Madrid.

Salah is just one behind Sergio Aguero this season in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot, but we are two points ahead of Manchester City.

The Egyptian hasn’t scored in his last seven games, but Liverpool are in a great position in the Champions League too with a two-legged quarter-final against Porto.

Hazard, for his part, seems to be doing it all for the Blues as they try to finish in the top four. However, Chelsea are currently sixth in the Premier League.

Read more Liverpool news, click here – Latest Liverpool news

The Belgian has always been one of the best in the Premier League, and it is proof of Salah’s quality that Hazard is trying to copy the Egyptian.

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Liverpool have some tough decisions to make in the summer and it includes strengthening this position

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Alisson of Liverpool

Liverpool opinion: Reds have tough decisions to make regarding goalkeeping spots next season

Liverpool went out and smashed the record transfer fee for a goalkeeper when they signed Alisson from AS Roma (h/t BBC).

That record didn’t last for long as Chelsea bought Kepa Arrizabalaga (h/t BBC), however, this was a statement of intent from the Reds in the summer.

The goalkeeping position was always going to be a huge problem for the Reds as Simon Mignolet and Loris Karius fought it out for the No.1 spot in the team.

Both made mistakes when Jurgen Klopp played them in the team, and Karius had a tough outing against Real Madrid in the Champions League final.

The German was sent on loan to Besiktas in the summer, but problems have risen in Turkey. Reports suggest that Karius wants the Reds to cancel after a difficult season.

Loris Karius of Liverpool

The former Mainz star has made a few glaring errors at his new home too, and reports suggest that a couple of German clubs are interested in signing him.

Who plays as the No.2 next season?

The dilemma that Liverpool could face is regarding their No.2 goalkeeper for next season. Karius left the Reds on a two-year loan deal to Besiktas and it will be interesting to see if he is open to becoming our No.2 again or if Klopp wants him back.

The German keeper hasn’t even completed one season away from the Reds.

Simon Mignolet has been a fantastic No.2 this season, especially because of his professionalism. The Belgian was replaced by Karius last season and has hinted he will discuss his future in the summer (h/t Liverpool Echo).

Simon Mignolet of Liverpool

Simon Mignolet

The Reds also have young goalkeepers such as Caoimhin Kelleher and Kamil Grabara impressing recently.

Grabara is out on loan at AGF and featured on the bench in our 2-1 defeat at the hands of Chelsea in the Carabao Cup this season.

Liverpool need a dependable No.2 who can do a job should he be called upon and pushing a young keeper into that role might be a risk.

Similarly, making Karius the No.2 before he has found his confidence again would be just as risky.

Any goalkeeper that is the second choice will have limited game time, however, we need someone of quality who can step up if Alisson gets injured.

Read more Liverpool news, click here – Latest Liverpool news

The Reds have some thinking to do in the summer, and hopefully, we find the right person to cover our Brazilian star.

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