On Wednesday night, Liverpool lost to Paris Saint-Germain, a frustrating result to end a frustrating match but one that doesn’t end what has, so far at least, been something of a frustrating Champions League campaign for the Reds.
Despite the loss—despite three road loses in Europe—Liverpool aren’t out of it. They still, somehow, control their own destiny with Napoli coming to Anfield for the final group stage game and with it a chance for Liverpool to set things right.
“We know how hard it is going to be against Napoli but we believe,” fullback Andy Robertson, one of the few Reds who had a good night against PSG, told the club’s official website following Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat.
“We believe at Anfield that we can create special nights and we will need our fans and need everyone behind us, and if we can create a special atmosphere then I’m sure the players will react and hopefully we can get the result we deserve.”
Liverpool lost 1-0 on the road to Napoli, and the same scoreline at Anfield would see the Reds safely into the group stages thanks to the convoluted intricacies of UEFA’s Champions League group stage tie-breaking formula.
When two teams are level, the advantage goes first to the one with more head-to-head points. After that it goes to head-to-head goal difference, head-to-head goals scored, and head-to-head away goals. With a 1-0 victory, all would be level.
That would send things to a second round of tie-breakers that considers overall group performance: overall goal difference, overall goals scored, overall away goals, total wins in the group, away wins in the group, fair play ranking, and—finally—club coefficient.
With a 1-0 victory, Liverpool advance on group goals scored—the sixth tie-breaker. However, if Napoli get a goal, Liverpool need to win the game by two to stop their Italian opponents advancing on head-to-head goals—the third tie-break.
Still, Liverpool know what they have to do. They still, despite three road losses, control their own destiny and have to win the game 1-0 or 3-1 or 4-2 or 5-3. A draw means they’re out. Even a 2-1 or 3-2 victory means they are out.
“We never do it the easy way,” Robertson added. “The last campaign we were stronger through the group stage but we had to win in the last game and managed it, so it’s the same this time.”