The narrative of Group C was loud and clear from the on set. Like the Dothraki slave girls in the movie Game of Thrones would say; it is known.
It is known, that one of Liverpool, PSG or Napoli will be condemned to a group stage elimination in Europe’s elite club competition. Whichever, certainly isn’t an easy guess, just like the uneasy passage for the other two in the group of death.
After Matchday five, what has played out is as good as everyone’s guess. And please check the table again to be sure, it is Liverpool, last year’s finalist who have their faith hanging in the balance.
As it stands, Napoli are uncomfortably top of the group with nine points, PSG are panting heavily behind them with eight points, Liverpool are blinking in third with six points while the unfancied Red Star Belgrade have four points to occupy the last spot.
In such a tight situation, the easy way out ought to be taking six points from the Serbian club. That’s where the surprise is actually, because they hit the heads of Liverpool against the dashboard – by beating the Reds 2-0 and prevented Napoli from exercising any sort of control with a goalless draw on matchday one.
Liverpool, from matchday one had the chance to take the driver’s seat in the group with a win over PSG at Anfield. But before they could even fasten their seatbelts, Napoli began the struggle to take the wheels while PSG took the backseat, waiting for a capitulation.
Napoli, perhaps made up for their blip against Red Star. They followed that draw with an important win against Liverpool before playing back-to-back draws against PSG and then the 3-1 win against Red Star in Naples to finally put themselves back in contention.
PSG, after the 3-2 loss at Liverpool looked like their money was not going to buy the UCL again. You’d expect them to whip Red Star in Paris, which they did. They could only get two points over two legs against Napoli, but that won’t cause much headache still because all they had to do was infect Liverpool with the flu in Paris. That was also done as a matter of urgency, as they ran out with a 2-1 win, condemning the Jurgen Klopp side to a final matchday showdown against Carlo Ancelotti’s men.
Now, it all comes down to matchday six, especially between Liverpool and Napoli.
PSG, although in second with eight points now look safe and good to get at least a point in Serbia to book a round-16 spot and a win will mean they go top of the group, depending on the outcome of the other game.
Red Star, with four points now may as well fancy their chances of getting a win so they could play in the Europa League but they will also need Napoli to beat Liverpool at Anfield. That way, Napoli stays top, PSG follows in second place, Red Star to Europa and Liverpool would be eliminated. How does that sound?
Back to the thinkable and predictable, Liverpool must beat Napoli by at least two-goal margin to be sure of passage. A 1-0 win will also do but a win with a goal margin means the away goal rule will be applied – and that spells DOOM for the Reds. A draw would be enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s men on the other hand.
By and large, PSG can only be undone by hard luck even as Napoli and Liverpool will have to decide their fate in battle. Forget que sera sera, this is about capability.