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A Closer Look at Liverpool FC’s Champions League Group Stage Opposition

Digging into some facts and stats on Liverpool’s UCL Group C opponents

UEFA Champions League & UEFA Cup Draw Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The Champions League group stage draw can often be annoying at best. The long wait can seem hardly worth it and no one seems to ever truly be satisfied with the group their team ends up in. However, by any measure Liverpool have at least ended up in an interesting group, one where they have only played a small handful of previous games against their upcoming opponents.

Liverpool play Paris St. Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade during the group stage, and each team will play each other twice. The top two teams of each group will, of course, go through to the UCL round of 16. Let’s dig in.

Paris St. Germain (PSG) – 1st in Ligue 1

2017-18 season (44th season in Ligue 1) Stats:
Ligue 1 – Winners
Coupe de France – Winners
Coupe de la Ligue – Winners
Trophé des Champions – Winners
UEFA Champions League – Round of 16 after losing to 2 – 5 to Real Madrid on aggregate over two legs
Top goalscorer – League: Edinson Cavani (28) All: Edinson Cavani (39)

PSG is currently managed by Thomas Tuchel, former Borussia Dortmund manager. Tuchel took over from Unai Emery, Arsenal’s new manager, on 1 July 2018.

PSG’s 28-man squad have an average age of 25,4 and they currently have 15 foreign players in the team.

UCL Fixtures vs Liverpool
Matchday 1 of 6: Liverpool vs PSG 18 September 2018 at Anfield, 8PM GMT/3PM EST
Matchday 5 of 6: PSG vs Liverpool 28 November 2018 at Parc des Princes, 8PM GMT/3PM EST

Previous Fixtures vs Liverpool
Liverpool have only played PSG twice. The two clubs played each other during the UEFA European Cup Winners Cup in 1997 with PSG winning the first leg 3-0 at home and Liverpool beating the French Champions 2-0 at Anfield. PSG went on to face Barcelona in the final in Rotterdam and lost 1-0 thanks to a penalty kick courtesy of the original Ronaldo.

SSC Napoli – 2nd in Serie A

2017-18 season (11th season in Serie A) stats:
Serie A – 2nd
Coppa Italia – Quarter-finals
UEFA Champions League – Finished 3rd in group stage (drawn with Manchester City, Feyenoord and Shakhtar Donetsk) after four losses and only two wins
UEFA Europa Cup – Round of 32: Napoli were eliminated after drawing 3-3 against RB Leipzig over two legs
Top Goalscorer – League: Dries Mertens (18) All Competitions: Dries Mertens (22)

The 2017-18 marked Maurizio Sarri’s third and final season as Napoli’s manager after he took over as Chelsea’s new manager. Sarri was succeeded by Carlo Ancelotti who was appointed on 1 July 2018.

Napoli’s 25-man squad have an average age of 26,7 and they currently have 21 foreign players in the team.

UCL Fixtures vs Liverpool
Matchday 2 of 6: Napoli vs Liverpool 3 October 2018 at San Paolo, 7PM GMT/3PM EST
Matchday 6 of 6: Liverpool vs Napoli 11 December 2018 at Anfield, 8PM GMT/3PM EST

Previous Fixtures vs Liverpool
Liverpool thumped Ancelotti’s Napoli 5 – 0 in their pre-season friendly at Anfield on 4 August, 2018. However, the two clubs have only ever met twice competitively and played each other in the UEFA Europa League in 2010, drawing 0 – 0 in the first leg with Liverpool then going on to win 2 – 0 in the second leg.

Red Star Belgrade – 1st in SuperLiga

2017-18 (72nd season in top flight football, 12th in Superliga) season stats:
Serbian SuperLiga – 1st
Serbian Cup – Quarter finals
UEFA Europa League – Round of 32: Red Star Belgrade were eliminated after losing 1 – 0 on aggregate to CSKA Moscow
Top Goalscorer – League: Pešić (25) All competitions: Pešić (29)

The team has been managed by Vladan Milojevic since 5 June 2017.

Belgrade’s 29-man squad have an average age of 25,1 and they currently have 9 foreign players in the team.

UCL Fixtures vs Liverpool
Matchday 3 of 6: Liverpool vs Red Star Belgrade 24 October 2018 at Anfield, 7PM GMT/3PM EST
Matchday 4 of 6: Red Star Belgrade vs Liverpool 6 November 2018 at Rajko Mitić, 5:55PM GMT/1:55PM EST

Previous Fixtures vs Liverpool
Liverpool haven’t faced Red Star since 1973, when they embarrassed Liverpool and in doing so helped re-shape how Bill Shankly sought to build his side.

With no recent rivalry or history between Liverpool and their group opponents, though, I’m sure we can look forward to some fresh and exciting football where anything can happen.

Here’s to LFC finishing top of their group—because why not?

Up the Mighty LFC Reds!

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