For a time, Liverpool looked set to dominate their Champions League group. Then, against Red Star Belgrade, they stumbled, losing to the group’s lowest-ranked side. Fortunately, the results elsewhere fell in their favour, and they still control their own destiny.
They’re level on points at the top of the group with Napoli and one ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, and with games to play against PSG in Paris and and Napoli at Anfield they’re well positioned to advance. But there isn’t any room for another major slip-up.
“We want to win in Paris,” Virgil van Dijk said today as the team prepared for their trip to France. “We’re not going to go there for a draw. We’re not going there for anything else other than trying to produce a good performance and trying to win the game.”
“It’s going to be unbelievably tough because they are still unbeaten in the league and haven’t lost at home for a long time. We need to play our own game, try to put them under pressure and stop them from doing what they’re good at, which is playing football.”
On that front, at least, Liverpool’s now sturdy defence will be key. It should also help that even if Neymar and Kylian Mbappe are fit to play, they won’t be expected to be 100% match fit after both picked up injuries last week during the international break.
For the fans, though, a game that sees Liverpool trying to manage their opponents, to perhaps draw them out and look to hit on the counter given PSG need a win here more than Liverpool do, could lead to a nervy Wednesday evening at the Parc des Princes.
For players like Van Dijk, on the other hand, a game like this and the pressures of leading the defence against such a rich attacking unit isn’t a reason for nerves but for excitement. Paris, on Wednesday night, is exactly the sort of game he joined to Liverpool to play in.
“It’s going to be a fantastic game with fantastic players all over the pitch,” he added. “These are the games you want to play in—you don’t want to be sitting at home watching them, you want to be playing in them. We have the chance to show that on Wednesday night.
“It’s the highest level in Europe. It’s something special. We need to show we’ve learned from our last two away games in the Champions League. I think we will. I am very confident we can produce a good performance.”