LONDON: The mark of a good team is the ability to keep winning when not playing at their known best. That confirms the quality of Liverpool who face Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday aware they can play better but knowing, also, that their new defensive security provides a platform to keep winning.
They won either side of the international break but need a positive result in Paris to make amends for the disappointing defeat and display in losing 2-0 to Red Star in Belgrade in their last European venture.
A positive sign of encouragement for manager Jurgen Klopp on Saturday was in seeing Roberto Firmino end his Premier goal drought in a 3-0 win at Watford. His headed late goal was the Brazilian’s first in the league since September 15. Liverpool also showed their resilience in winning comfortably despite seeing captain Jordan Henderson sent off for two yellow cards.
Henderson will miss next weekend’s Merseyside derby with Everton but is fit and ready for the challenge of holding at bay Neymar and Kylian Mbappe whom Liverpool believe will be fit after minor injuries suffered while with Brazil and France.
By contrast the international break was good for Liverpool. Trent Alexander-Arnold, Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk all scored key goals for their countries, Xherdan Shaqiri starred for Switzerland, Naby Keita returned to action after injury with Guinea and Dominic Solanke scored four goals in a week for England under-21s.
On top of that Sadio Mane followed the examples of Salah and Firmino in signing a new five-year contract.
Klopp’s side are one point clear of PSG in Group C. They will secure their place in the knockout stages, with one game to spare, if they win in the Parc des Princes and Red Star fail to beat Napoli.
The manager was seriously disappointed by events in Belgrade and has promised a very different Liverpool in Paris. He said: “We need to make sure that [defeat] does not happen again because the last game is a very difficult home game against Napoli.
“Against Red Star there were a lot of moments when we could have got control of the game and we didn’t do it. We made the wrong decisions. I don’t think that was anything to do with playing away or home, it just happened. Next time we will do it better 100 per cent.”
Old Liverpool favourite Jan Molby believes that Liverpool should pursue victory in Paris. He said: “We’ve played them at Anfield and seen some of the weaknesses they have so I’d expect Jurgen Klopp to be very much on the front foot.”