Five things we learned as Liverpool forgo defending in favour of attack to reach the Champions League Group Stage

The Reds will find out who fills their group at 5pm on Thursday evening

Jack Austin
Wednesday 23 August 2017 20:59 BST

Liverpool FC have reached the Group Stages of the Champions League for the first time since the 2014/15 season where that was as far as they went in the competition.

The Reds cantered through with three goals – two from Emre Can and one from Mohamed Salah – inside the opening 20 minutes before Roberto Firmino added a fourth to win 6-3 on aggregate against their Bundesliga rivals Hoffenheim.

Here’s five things we learned from the win…

You score three, we’ll score four

Liverpool dominated the opening stages especially but were nearly behind for their efforts after eight minutes when former Arsenal forward Serge Gnabry somehow managed to scuff the ball high and wide from six yards out.

Salah has had an impressive start to life at Anfield

It wasn’t an exception on the night, either, and Hoffenheim continued to create chances, eventually scoring through Mark Uth and Sandro Wagner. The tactics deployed by Liverpool were similar to those of Brazil through the years of ‘we will always score more than you’. However, they won’t always be playing against a defence as weak as the Germans’ in the Champions League.


With all the furore around Philippe Coutinho’s future, it would be easy to forget how good Liverpool’s attack is without the Brazilian. Salah looks like he already on the same wavelength as Firmino and Sadio Mane at the top of the pitch, with their relentless running terrifying their German visitors at times.

Liverpool did not look like they missed Philippe Coutinho

And behind them they have the likes of Adam Lallana and Gigi Wijnaldum, with Can providing the goal threat from deep on the night. With all these positives, it begs the question of whether the £138 Barcelona are willing to hand over for Coutinho be better invested? Say in that shakey-looking defence…?

Can provides something extra

Liverpool have been missing a midfielder who can regularly contribute goals ever since Steven Gerrard was in his pomp. In Can they’ve had a player who has had all the attributes to do that job but, for one reason or another, it never happened.

Can scored twice on the night in a fine performance

However, his two goals at Anfield on Wednesday night showed what he can become for the Reds. They were late, well-timed runs to fill space he saw in the box. He scored a few screamers last season but these are the type of goals he would rather be scoring on a more regular basis.

Anfield European nights

They’re back! Whether you like it or not, the sight of the Kop bouncing up and down under the night sky is a sight that is synonymous with the European Cup. And for the first one of the season, it was a stormer.

Sadio Mane was jeering up the Anfield crowd

Three goals inside 20 minutes all but secured the tie but that didn’t stop the attacking football, and the atmosphere fed off that. And the players in turn fed off the atmosphere. Mane pumping up the crowd at 3-0 showed just how much it meant to both fans and players.

Who’s next?

That’s the question on Liverpool fans’ lips after Wednesday night’s performance. The Reds will be in Pot 3 for Thursday afternoon’s draw, leaving themselves ripe for the picking of Europe’s biggest clubs.

They could be put in the same group as Real Madrid and PSG, or Bayern Munich and Barcelona. But they could also sneak a draw including Spartak Moscow or Shakhtar Donetsk. All eyes will be on Monaco at 5pm.

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