A crucial win: Liverpool 3-2 PSG

Here are three talking points from a thrilling night at Anfield:

Sturridge’s special moment: It’s an unfortunate quirk of circumstances that Sturridge had never started a Champions League match for Liverpool until the visit of PSG.  In fact, the previous occasion he featured in a game in the competition from kick-off came before he even joined the club – in March 2012.  But the No.15 grasped his long-awaited chance by heading home the breakthrough goal of a frantic encounter against the French champions, from Andy Robertson’s perfect cross at the Kop end.  And, despite that gap between Champions League starts, Sturridge actually extended his run of being directly involved in goals in the tournament for Liverpool. He has now done so in four consecutive appearances – two goals and two assists.

Reds set goal pace in Europe: Liverpool’s three goals on the night increased our tally in the competition proper since the beginning of last season to 44 – a total no team in Europe can match.  That haul has come in 14 games at an average of more than three per fixture, making the Reds comfortably the tournament’s most prolific side during that period.  Klopp’s team have been especially relentless at Anfield, scoring 34 times in their past 10 European games at the ground, with only FC Porto shutting them out in that run.

Advantage Liverpool in Group C

Pos Team P W D L GF GA GD Pts
1 Liverpool 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 3
2 Crvena Zvezda 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
3 Napoli 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
4 Paris Saint-Germain 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0

While the Reds were fighting hard to finally beat PSG, elsewhere in the group Red Star Belgrade and Napoli were sharing the points in a goalless stalemate.  Nothing could separate the fourth and second seeds in the section respectively, meaning Liverpool hold a two-point lead after the first round of matches.

We’ll now look to build on that minor advantage in our next Champions League fixture – an away trip to Napoli in early October.

Liverpool to face PSG, Napoli and Red Star in Champions League

Liverpool will face Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade in Group C of the Champions League this season.

Thursday’s draw took place in Monaco and placed the Reds – runners-up in the competition last term – in the same section as the clubs from France, Italy and Serbia respectively.

The opening matches of the group stage will be held on September 18/19, with further fixtures on October 2/3, October 23/24, November 6/7, November 27/28 and December 11/12.

Liverpool have played each of the three teams twice before: PSG in the Cup Winners’ Cup (1997), Napoli in the Europa League (2010) and Red Star in the European Cup (1973).

Jürgen Klopp is confident Liverpool will be a ‘big challenge’ for any team in Europe, after sharing his reaction with the clubs official website.

Full Champions League group stage draw

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Bruges.

Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven, Inter Milan.

Group C: Paris St-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade.

Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow, FC Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray.

Group E: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens.

Group F: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim.

Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen.

Group H: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys.

Pep Guardiola to join Man City

Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola seems to be closer to a decision as he expressed a strong interest coaching in the Premiership after his New York sabbatical is over. He is London attending the FA’s 150th anniversary celebrations.  Having done a little bit of reading around it seems most likely that Guardiola will land at Man City for several reasons.

  • Aitor ‘Txiki’ Begiristain is Man City’s recently hired Director of Football was responsible in 2008 for promoting the then unknown Guardiola, the coach of their B team, as Frank Rijkaard’s successor.
  • Man City’s CEO, Ferran Soriano, was Barca’s CFO during Guardiola’s tenure.
  • Mancini has struggled with success in Europe despite spending millions and I can’t see City’s owners continuing with him beyond this season bar a miracle taking place.
  • Man City also have one of the best youth academies in the country, having produced more professionals than any other Premiership side including a number of internationals.  Guardiola is obvious very passionate about youth development having handed Sergio Busquets, Pedro, Jeffren, and Thiago Alcantara their Barcelona debuts after nurturing their careers in the B side.

Chelsea don’t have the reputation for Guardiola – they don’t focus on nurturing and looking after players – instead they are clearly run by the whims of Abramovich as owner, just look at the purchases of Andrey Shevchenko and Fernando Torres, the loss of Didier Drogba, the likely loss of Frank Lampard, and the revolving door that the coaching staff seem to go around.  I see it much more likely that Jose Mourinho and Abramovich repair their relationship and he makes a return to the EPL.

Sir Alex Ferguson is the problem for Guardiola to take on the role at Man Utd.  He isn’t looking like leaving soon unless he has a sudden change of heart or he decides his health is more important which from all his statements seems highly unlikely – and given his high level of success the Glaziers are unlikely to dispatch of Ferguson.

Given Guardiola has a clear preference for the English Premier League I believe that PSG and Bayern Munich are out of the running, which only leaves the dark horse of Arsenal.  He could be brilliant for the club, but I’m not sure the club’s board have got the imagination to walk away from Arsene Wenger and to engage with another brilliant tactician – although this season’s results so far could move this up their agenda.