Liverpool’s Champions League fate lies in their own hands when they face Spartak Moscow at Anfield on Wednesday evening; 7.45pm kick off UK time. A draw would guarantee us qualification to the last 16, while a win would see us qualify as group winners, which would give us the advantage of the second leg being played at Anfield, when the competition resumes in February 2018. It would also mean playing a team that finished second in their group, though with Real Madrid, Bayern and Juventus currently second, that advantage may be questionable. In fact, as City, Utd and Chelsea are likely to top their groups and with country protection in the round of 16, finishing second is at least as likely to secure us a favourable draw as finishing first.
Spartak have not won away in Europe since a 1-0 success at AFC Ajax in their 2010/11 UEFA Europa League round of 16 first leg. Their record since reads D5 L5.
Below are the full permutations for Group E taken from the UEFA Champions League website:
- Liverpool will qualify with a draw, and will clinch first place with a win, or a draw if Sevilla fail to win. If Liverpool lose they are out unless Sevilla are also defeated (as Liverpool would be below Spartak in a two-way head-to-head or would be third in a three-way head-to-head on nine points). (I don’t quite understand why we would be eliminated if the top three sides finished with nine points, when we scored three goals at Sevilla, which would surely count for more considering Sevilla scored two at Anfield, with both games ending in a draw. Plus Liverpool have a far superior goal difference, so I don’t understand why we would be third below Sevilla based on head to head, goals scored or goal difference?)
- Sevilla will qualify with a draw, or if Spartak fail to win. Sevilla clinch first place if they win and Liverpool do not.
- Spartak would be through with a win or third with any other result. If Spartak win they will finish top unless Sevilla also win.
- Maribor will finish fourth.
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