Can Liverpool maintain a challenge on two fronts? - (2021)
As we head into the business end of the season, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be carefully weighing up his priorities.
The Reds have a great shot to end their 29-year wait for the title this term. They’re level on points with leaders Manchester City, with a game in hand. We’ve got them at 5/4 to finish top.
But Klopp will also be determined to go one better than last year’s Champions League Final defeat. His side host Bayern Munich on Tuesday as 21/20 favourites in the round of 16 first leg.
But can they keep it up in both competitions? Or will one have to fall by the wayside?
Can Klopp avoid history repeating itself?
Klopp has shown he knows how to lead a team to the title with two successive Bundesliga wins during his time at Borussia Dortmund. He can navigate a European campaign too, reaching the Champions League Final with Dortmund and Liverpool.
But he’s never been able to do both in the same year.
Dortmund were knocked out of Europe at the group stage in both of his Bundesliga-winning seasons. And his two Champions League Final appearances coincided with his side finishing over 25 points off the domestic champions.
Will Liverpool have to take their foot off the pedal in the league if they progress in Europe? We’ll have to wait and see if the manager has come up with a solution.
Liverpool’s first-team can compete with anyone, with one of the best attacking trios anywhere. But do they have the depth needed to go all the way in both competitions?
With Virgil van Dijk suspended and Joe Gomez and Dejan Lovren injured, Joel Matip and Fabinho are likely to start in central defence against Bayern.
That could be ominous with Robert Lewandowski coming to town.
Any injury to Mohamed Salah or Roberto Firmino could be devastating at the other end of the pitch too.
Reasons to believe
Despite those reasons for concern, Liverpool have still been picking up points in the league even when they’ve not been at their best.
They control their own destiny in the league too. Win all of their 12 remaining games and they’ll be champions, whatever City do.
Pep Guardiola’s side are also still in both domestic cups, adding to an already-packed fixture list.
If Klopp can get the balance right, his side look well-placed to compete for the league and European honours. But actually lifting both trophies is another matter entirely.
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