CL Group E Qualifying odds
Champions League 2019/2020: To Qualify from Group E?
Group E - FC Red Bull Salzburg, KRC Genk, Liverpool, Napoli
It’s a case of Déjà vu for Carlo Ancelotti and Jürgen Klopp in Group E as Liverpool and Napol face off in the preliminary stages of the Champions League once again. Last season, it was Liverpool who just managed to edge out Napoli to a second-place finish - with Paris Saint Germain claiming top spot – by virtue of their superior ‘goals scored’ tally. The Serie A runners-up two times running beat Liverpool 1-0 in Naples on the opening day of their European campaign but fell by the same scoreline on the final day on Merseyside. This meant Napoli failed to qualify for the last 16 despite having lost just one game compared to their English counterpart’s three. This season, Napoli are one a number of challengers to Juventus’s domestic dominance in Serie A and they have recruited accordingly. Kostas Manolas was brought in from Roma to sure up the defence and Hirving Lozano was signed from PSV to add cover to their already dynamic front three. They failed in their pursuit of Mauro Icardi who looks set to join PSG from Inter Milan but even so, Napoli are one of the most exciting teams to watch in Europe. Just at they were last year, the games between themselves and Liverpool will be epics.
Liverpool, of course, would go on to win the competition after a mesmeric run to the finals which featured a memorable 3-1 away win in Munich and a stunning comeback from a 3-0 first-leg defeat to Barcelona in the semi-finals. In Madrid they beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in the first all English final since 2008, meaning Jordan Henderson had the privilege of lifting the club’s sixth Champions League trophy in their illustrious history. It was a deserved trophy in what was arguably one of Liverpool greatest ever seasons, in terms of victories amassed at least. They were pipped to the post domestically by Manchester City who achieved 98 points to Liverpool’s 97, the second and third highest points totals in English top-flight history. They can feel mightily aggrieved for not winning the league despite losing just one game – knowing the character of Jürgen Klopp’s team, however, this will only spur them on. Liverpool detractors will point to the fact that they have not carried out any meaningful recruitment this summer, a phenomenon which usually acts as a death knell for potential title challengers in both England and in Europe. But, even without recruitment, Liverpool are arguably the second-best side in Europe – even though they have their sights set firmly on a first league title since 1990 this season, it would be foolish to discount them from the Champions League.
Liverpool and Napoli’s challengers, KRC Genk and Red Bull Salzburg, both enjoyed positive domestic campaigns last time out. They both won league titles, in Belgium and Austria respectively, and both topped their groups in the Europa League. Coincidentally, it was Napoli who eliminated Red Bull Salzburg from the second-tier European competition last year, a fact which doesn’t bode well for their chances in Group E. Genk reached the same stage before being humbled by Slavia Prague 4-1. The available evidence suggests it will be a tightly fought contest between the two for a 3rd place finish.