From the moment the Champions League groups were drawn, any betting person would’ve put good money on Group C, made up of last season’s finalists Liverpool, star-studded Paris Saint-Germain and underrated Napoli, would the one that went down to the final match day.
With none of these heavyweights possessing more than a three-point lead over any other, the final round of group play will see one of the trio bow out of the competition and drop down to the Europa League.
The Reds injected the drama into proceedings by failing to get an expected result against the fourth member of the group, minnows Red Star Belgrade, before falling 2-1 at the Parc des Princes on Wednesday.
The task now for the Reds will be to beat Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli at Anfield either 1-0 or by a two-goal difference in order to advance. Despite the pressure, Reds’ vice-captain, James Milner insists that his side were prepared for this challenge from the beginning:
”We know it was a tough group all along, the Champions League is tough,” the midfielder said.
”But to have it in your own hands going into the last game and having a home game—we’d like to have it sewn up by now sure we would - I don’t think you can ask for more.
”If you had said ‘You have to win your last home game to get through the group, I think everyone would have been fine with it.
”If you can’t win your home games in the Champions League then you don’t deserve to go through.
”I’m not concerned; we’ve played pretty well this season.
”We’re not that experienced in the Champions League,” Milner continued. “We had a good run [to the final] last year and that will definitely help us but we got through in the final group game last year and look where we ended up.
”You don’t see any of the lads panicking, we are comfortable we can go and finish the job at home.”
The prospect of crashing out of Europe’s premier competition in such tragically premature fashion hasn’t even crossed the squad’s minds, the 32-year-old insisted:
”I don’t think that’s crossed anyone’s mind to be honest.”
”Our aim is to get out of the group: get the result and get through.
”If we don’t do that we don’t deserve to be in the Champions League and we’ll take whatever happens from there—Europa League or whatever.
”At this moment in time we’re just focused on getting through the group.”