There is no special emphasis on ‘No. 6’ found in the lexicon of Liverpool FC fans. Certainly not in the same manner as la decima, Real Madrid’s quest for 10th Champions League, a feat that was finally achieved in 2014. In fact, the number ‘19’ might be more significant for Liverpool fans, in reference to their record of league titles, just two behind hated-rivals Manchester United.
However, Liverpool, with five Champions League/European Cups in the trophy cabinet, could conceivably lift their sixth title this year. That would move them ahead of Bayern Munich and Barcelona in the all-time list, putting them 3rd behind AC Milan (7) and Real Madrid (12).
5-0 destruction of Porto sent a warning to rest of Europe
How highly should we rate their chances this year? Well, the 5-0 dismantling of Porto in the first-leg tie was arguably the most impressive away performance from any team in the knockout phases since Neymar and Suarez helped Barcelona put PSG to the sword at Parc Des Princes in the 2015 quarter-finals.
Porto were left absolutely shell-shocked as they were unable to cope with Liverpool’s attacking trio of Firmino, Sadio Mane and Mo Salah. In truth, they should have seen it coming as Liverpool recorded 7-0 victories over Spartak Moscow and Maribor in the group stages. Salah, in particular, has been in sparkling form, notching his 30th goal of the season against Porto. If he, along with Mane and Firmino, can stay fit, Liverpool are capable of beating any team in the later rounds.
City still clear favourites in Champions League betting odds
What do the betting odds have to say about the Reds’ chances of a sixth title? Well, according to the bookmakers, Man City are firm favourites at 3/1, with Bayern Munich (11/2), Barcelona (11/2) and Real Madrid (13/2) not too far behind. Liverpool can still be found at odds of 14/1, which looks pretty generous given that, barring a miracle in the second-leg, they have already booked their quarter-final spot.
While many will point to Man City’s Premier League position in comparison to Liverpool’s, there is also the fact that it was Liverpool who ended City’s unbeaten run. Both are playing with incredible form, but do City, at 3/1, really merit being over four times shorter in the odds than Liverpool? There are plenty of free bet options for the Champions League. Backing Liverpool, a team who could give nightmares to the rest of Europe’s elite, looks like the value option.
Defensive issues may hurt Liverpool in the latter stages
To give balance to the argument, it has to be said that Liverpool do have several flaws. They failed to address their lack of a world-class goalkeeper once again in the January transfer window. While Virgil Van Dijk has added class to the defence, they are still culpable of lacking concentration at times and often concede goals through sloppy defending. They also lack the depth to cope and would struggle to cope with the loss of one or two Mane, Firmino and Salah.
In the end, it may turn out not to be Liverpool’s year. But they have so much about them on their day that you could see them potentially embarrass a side like Real Madrid or Bayern Munich in the later rounds. They put four goals past Man City, a side who are being touted as one of the greatest in recent history. Does that not suggest that Liverpool, with one foot already in the quarter-finals, could really go on to lift a sixth Champions League title?