Imperfect Liverpool offer Atletico hope, PSG under pressure against Dortmund
Liverpool’s 2-1 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday was met with an unusual sense of relief around Anfield for a side that had just clinched a 22nd consecutive home league win and moved 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Such has been the Reds’ relentless run towards a first league title in 30 years that three defeats in three different competitions in four games was considered a slump in form.
A 3-0 reverse at Watford deprived Jurgen Klopp’s men the chance to match Arsenal’s “invincible” unbeaten league season and a FA Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea means they cannot replicate Manchester United’s treble of 1998/99.
However, the most damaging of the trio of defeats could still prove to be the 1-0 deficit they must overturn when Atletico Madrid travel to Anfield for the second leg of their Champions League last 16 tie on Wednesday.
“It’s a long season and you see how many games we’ve played. In any sport you play it’s impossible to be at your highest level all year, year in and year out,” said James Milner, who produced a stunning goal-line clearance to secure victory against Bournemouth.
“You try your best and it just doesn’t happen, and that’s when you need to find a way to win.”
When at their best, Liverpool have shown they are more than capable of second leg fightbacks at home.
Most spectacularly when Barcelona were humbled 4-0 in last season’s semi-final despite holding a 3-0 first leg lead.
Meanwhile, nothing ever seems to go to plan in the Champions League for Paris Saint-Germain, whose bid to avoid yet another exit in the first knockout round against Borussia Dortmund will be played out before an empty stadium on Wednesday.
After Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and co. lost 2-1 to an Erling Haaland-inspired Dortmund before a crowd of 80,000 in Germany last month, PSG discovered on Monday the second leg of their last-16 tie must be played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. -AFP