In the post-match press conference, Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp was hesitant to say that his side were through to the Champions League quarterfinals. Of course, it is standard coach-speak: it ain’t over til it’s over and all that.
The lads at Five Thirty Eight have a different idea, basically listing Liverpool as nailed-on participants in the next round. According to the website, the Reds now have over a 99% chance of making it to the next round after last night’s 5-0 defenestration. This is up from a 63% chance prior to kickoff. And it gets worse yet for Porto, the site is only giving them a 15% chance of winning the reverse fixture by any number, let alone by 5 or more goals.
However, Liverpool’s chances for next round are not the only ones to be improving. No, their odds are moving up across the board, and have been moving in that direction for months now. Back in December, immediately after the Round of 16 draw, Liverpool were listed as 7th favorites, with an Soccer Power Index (SPI, determined by various metrics, including expected goals) of 85.0 (out of a possible 100). The odds of Liverpool advancing were pegged at 58%, with only a 1-in-4 (26%) chance of advancing to the semifinals, and only a 5% chance of taking home ol’ Big Ears.
Last night saw Liverpool’s SPI jump up to 88.6, and odds of reaching the semifinals skyrocket to 52%. The odds of reaching the final, 24%, are nearly as high as our previous odds of reaching the semis, and the site now lists Liverpool as having an 11% chance of winning the whole fucking thing. For a sake of comparison, top ranked team Barcelona (SPI of 94.0) have a 22% of winning it all.
Liverpool’s odds, now above previously 4th-favorites PSG, were boosted further by Paris’s loss at the same time as our win. In short, it was a big night.
But not just a big night. Liverpool’s SPI has been gradually creeping upward ever since the beginning of late December. As previously discussed, Five Thirty Eight lists Liverpool as the second-best team in the Premier League (no small feat, considering), and on their night, the Reds are capable of beating just about anyone.
If Liverpool were suspected dark horses before last night, they confirmed their status from an absolutely dominating away performance that you just don’t see at this stage of the competition.
Of course, one bad result in the next round could easily undo all the incredible work Klopp’s men have put in during this Champions League campaign. And naturally, barring a very fortunate draw in the next round, the competition only gets tougher from here. But we can only beat the teams that are put in front of us.
Last night, we effectively won the tie after a devastating 85 minutes, culminating in our 5th, and Mane’s 3rd, goal. We didn’t just survive and advance. We attacked and conquered.
It almost certainly will not be so easy in the next round, no matter who we draw (though if you want to prove me wrong, lads...). Still, advancing to the quarterfinals for a team without a bevy of recent Champions League experience is fantastic work. Hopefully we have a few more big, big performances left.
For now, we can enjoy the performance, and possibly even rest some players ahead of our trip to Manchester United following our second-leg tie. And know, statistically speaking, that Liverpool have a real chance at a great run in the world’s greatest cup competition.