UCL Preview: Liverpool v PSG
Group C kicks off with a heavyweight contest as Liverpool welcome Paris Saint-Germain to Anfield with both sides looking to lay down an early marker.
After both sides had broken the previous record for group stage goals in 2017/18 – Paris scoring 25 goals, Liverpool 23 – each found their campaigns halted by Real Madrid. While Paris bowed out to the Spanish giants in the last 16 – the second successive year in which they had fallen at that hurdle – Liverpool made it all the way to the final only to lose 3-1 to Madrid in Kyiv, missing out on a sixth European title.
The clubs’ only fixtures to date came in the 1996/97 Uefa Cup Winners’ Cup semifinals, when Paris seized control of the tie with a 3-0 first-leg win at the Parc des Princes – although they had to survive a scare back on Merseyside, going through despite a 2-0 defeat. The final ended in a 1-0 loss to Barcelona.
Fourth in the Premier League in 2017/18, Liverpool are in the group stage for the second season running, having featured once in the previous seven.
Liverpool scored an average of 3.15 goals per game in the 2017/18 Uefa Champions League.
The five-time winners reached their eighth European Cup final in 2017/18, when they won five of their seven Uefa Champions League home matches (qualifying included), drawing the others.
Before being held 2-2 by Sevilla on matchday one last season, Liverpool’s previous six European games at Anfield had all produced a home win. They are unbeaten in their last 16 European home matches (W11 D5), since a 3-0 loss to Real Madrid on 22 October 2014.
The Reds have won their last two home matches against French sides – most recently a 2-1 defeat of Bordeaux in the 2015/16 Uefa Europa League group stage – having lost two of the previous three. Overall, their record at Anfield against Ligue 1 visitors is W11 D1 L2.
Ligue 1 champions for the fifth time in six years in 2017/18, and seventh time overall, this is the French side’s seventh successive Uefa Champions League campaign.
Semifinalists in 1995, Paris have been knocked out in the round of 16 in the last two seasons – having been eliminated in the quarterfinals in the four previous campaigns.
Paris have scored in all of their last 16 Uefa Champions League games.
The Parisian club have lost their last two away European games 3-1, at Real Madrid in the round of 16 first leg and Bayern München on matchday six last season.
Paris have lost their last three European matches – equalling the worst run in their history. They last lost three in a row between 2002 and 2004.
The French side are without a win in their last four games against English opposition (D3 L1), since a 2-1 success at Chelsea in the 2015/16 Uefa Champions League round of 16-second leg. That was their first win in England, where their record is W1 D4 L4.
Links and Trivia
Thomas Tuchel succeeded Jürgen Klopp as Borussia Dortmund coach in summer 2015. Between 2009 and 2014, Tuchel was in charge of Mainz – where Klopp was the coach from 2001 to 2008.
- Have played together
Joël Matip & Thilo Kehrer (Schalke, 2015/16)
Fabinho & Ángel Di María (Real Madrid, 2012/13)
Fabinho & Layvin Kurzawa (Monaco, 2013–15)
Fabinho & Kylian Mbappé (Monaco, 2015–17)
Xherdan Shaqiri & Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Stoke, 2017/18)
Fabinho and Mbappé were French champions together at Monaco in 2016/17.
- Have played in France:
Dejan Lovren (Lyon, 2010–13)
Fabinho (Monaco, 2013–18)
Naby Keïta (Istres, 2013/14)
Sadio Mané (Metz, 2011–12)
Divock Origi (LOSC Lille, 2012–15)
- Have played in England:
Ángel Di María (Manchester United, 2014/15)
Lassana Diarra (Chelsea 2005–07, Arsenal 2007/08, Portsmouth 2008/09)
Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Stoke, 2017/18)
- International teammates:
Alisson, Fabinho, Roberto Firmino & Thiago Silva, Marquinhos, Neymar, Dani Alves (Brazil)
Divock Origi, Simon Mignolet & Thomas Meunier (Belgium)
Kylian Mbappé scored France’s last goal in a 4-2 defeat of Dejan Lovren’s Croatia in July’s Fifa World Cup final.
Alphonse Areola and Presnel Kimpembe were unused French substitutes.
Thomas Meunier got Belgium’s first goal in a 2-0 defeat of England in the World Cup third-place play-off match.
Trent Alexander-Arnold and Jordan Henderson were in the losing side.
Mbappé scored his first international goal against Georginio Wijnaldum’s Netherlands in World Cup qualifying on 31 August 2017.
- Summer transfers
In: Naby Keïta (Leipzig), Fabinho (Monaco), Xherdan Shaqiri (Stoke City), Alisson Becker (Roma)
Out: Ovie Ejaria (Rangers, loan), Emre Can (Juventus), Jon Flanagan (released), Ádám Bogdán (Hibernian, loan), Danny Ward (Leicester City), Taiwo Awoniyi (Gent, loan), Allan (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan), Ben Woodburn (Sheffield United, loan), Danny Ings (Southampton, loan), Ragnar Klavan (Cagliari), Marko Grujic (Hertha BSC, loan), Loris Karius (Besiktas, loan)
Jürgen Klopp’s side have won all five Premier League matches this season, most recently Saturday’s 2-1 success at Tottenham. It is only the third time in their history, after 1978/79 and 1990/91, the club have won their first five league matches.
Roberto Firmino has scored in Liverpool’s last two games, while Georginio Wijnaldum’s goal at Tottenham was his first away strike in the Premier League, in his 55th match.
Liverpool had not won five league matches in a row since February-March 2015.
Liverpool paid a world-record fee for a goalkeeper this summer to bring in Alisson from Roma – this was quickly eclipsed by Chelsea’s signing of Kepa Arrizabalaga.
James Milner’s nine assists in the 2017/18 Uefa Champions League set a new competition record.
Reds captain Jordan Henderson signed a new five-year contract on 3 September.
Henderson and Trent Alexander-Arnold were both in the England squad that finished fourth at this summer’s Fifa World Cup.
Shaqiri scored one goal and had a hand in two more as Switzerland beat Iceland 6-0 in the Uefa Nations League on 8 September. Firmino got Brazil’s opener in a 2-0 defeat of the United States the previous day.
Dejan Lovren played all seven games as Croatia reached the World Cup final in Russia – but a pelvis problem has sidelined him since the final loss to France on 15 July. Adam Lallana has not played since 20 August due to a groin injury.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is unlikely to play this season after suffering a serious knee injury in last season’s Uefa Champions League semi-final first leg against Roma on 24 April.
Firmino was taken to hospital on Saturday after suffering an eye injury but was discharged the same evening after minor abrasion was diagnosed.
- Summer transfers
In: Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus), Thilo Kehrer (Schalke), Juan Bernat (Bayern), Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting (Stoke City)
Out: Thiago Motta (retired), Odsonne Édouard (Celtic), Javier Pastore (Roma), Yuri Berchiche (Athletic Club), Jonathan Ikoné (LOSC Lille), Lorenzo Callegari (Genoa), Grzegorz Krychowiak (Lokomotiv Moskva, loan), Rémy Descamps (Clermont, loan), Yohan Demoncy (Orléans), Gaëtan Robail (Valanciennes, loan), Samuel Essende (Eupen, loan), Gonçalo Guedes (Valencia), Kevin Trapp (Eintracht Frankfurt, loan), Jean-Christophe Bahebeck (Utrecht), Giovani Lo Celso (Betis, loan)
Friday’s 4-0 defeat of St-Étienne made it five Ligue 1 wins in a row at the start of the season for Paris, one short of the club record of six set last year.
Edinson Cavani scored for the third league game in a row, Moussa Diaby opening his account for Paris’s senior side.
Paris have managed 17 goals in those five Ligue 1 wins – they failed to win any of their last four in 2017/18 (D3 L1).
Paris won the Trophée des Champions for the sixth year in a row and eighth overall with a 4-0 defeat of Monaco on 4 August. Ángel Di María scored twice, Christopher Nkunku and Timothy Weah getting the other goals.
Kylian Mbappé, Presnel Kimpembé and Alphonse Areola were part of the victorious France squad at this summer’s Fifa World Cup, Mbappé scoring four goals – including one in the final defeat of Croatia – and being named the tournament’s best young player.
Areola won his first two caps for France in the Uefa Nations League matches against Germany and the Netherlands earlier this month. Mbappé scored France’s opener in the 2-1 win against the Dutch.
Thomas Meunier was in the Belgium squad that reached the semifinals in Russia, scoring the opening goal in the 2-0 win against England in the third-place play-off.
Neymar converted penalties in Brazil’s friendly wins against the United States and El Salvador on 7 and 11 September respectively to maintain his record of scoring in every game for club and country this term; he did not play against St-Étienne.
Date of birth: 16 June 1967
Playing career: Glatten, Ergenzingen, Pforzheim, Eintracht Frankfurt, Viktoria Sindlingen, Rot-Weiss Frankfurt, Mainz
Coaching career: Mainz, Borussia Dortmund, Liverpool
Having spent his early career in the lower leagues and failed to break into Eintracht’s first team, Klopp turned professional with Mainz, starting off as a striker before becoming a no-nonsense defender. Never played in the top flight but made 325 second-division appearances from 1990 to 2001, setting a club record by scoring 52 goals.
‘Kloppo’, as he is known in Germany, was appointed Mainz’s caretaker coach on 28 February 2001, helping the club avoid relegation to the third tier. Duly won a permanent contract and built Mainz into one of the strongest clubs in the Bundesliga; narrowly missed out on promotion in 2002 and 2003 before finally taking Mainz into the top flight for the first time in 2004 and kept them in the Bundesliga until 2007, taking them into the 2005/06 Uefa Cup via the Uefa Fair Play ranking.
After another promotion near-miss in 2007/08, Klopp left for Dortmund. Took them to sixth in his first season, led them into the Uefa Europa League the next year and then, with a squad full of exciting young talent, oversaw league title wins in 2010/11 and 2011/12, adding the German Cup in the latter campaign with a 5-2 final victory against Bayern München.
Earned even greater admiration in 2012/13 as he steered Dortmund all the way to the Uefa Champions League final at Wembley, where they lost to Bayern. Dortmund reached another domestic cup final in 2014 but again came up short against Bayern.
Announced in April 2015 he was leaving Dortmund after that season, which ended with a cup final defeat against Wolfsburg. Succeeded Brendan Rodgers as Liverpool manager in October 2015 and took the team to the finals of the English League Cup and Uefa Europa League – helped by a quarterfinal defeat of Dortmund – in his first season.
Lost both, and there was more final disappointment in 2017/18, which ended in defeat by Real Madrid in the Uefa Champions League decider in Kyiv.
Date of birth: 29 August 1973
Playing career: Augsburg U19s, Stuttgarter Kickers, Ulm
Coaching career: Stuttgart (youth coach and U19s assistant coach), Augsburg (U19s, academy coordinator and reserves), Mainz (U19s and first-team head coach), Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain
Tuchel had a fairly undistinguished playing career, retiring prematurely in 1998 due to injury. His first off-pitch role was with the Stuttgart youth team. He subsequently joined Augsburg, where he coached the U19s and reserve sides as well as serving as academy coordinator.
Tuchel moved to Mainz in 2008 and was initially in charge of the U19s, whom he led to a German title. A year after joining the club, Tuchel succeeded Jørn Andersen as coach of the senior team. He went on to qualify twice for the Uefa Europa League, though Mainz were eliminated at the third qualifying round stage on both occasions.
He took over from Jürgen Klopp in the Dortmund dugout prior to the 2015/16 campaign and led his side to the Uefa Europa League quarterfinals, where they came up against Klopp’s Liverpool team – and lost 5-4 on aggregate.
Dortmund fared well under Tuchel in the Bundesliga in 2015/16, racking up 78 points to finish second behind Bayern München and qualify automatically for the 2016/17 Uefa Champions League group stage. They were also beaten by Bayern in the German Cup final in Tuchel’s debut season.
Tuchel’s first coaching honour followed in 2016/17, Dortmund overcoming Eintracht Frankfurt 3-1 in the German Cup final in what proved to be his last match in charge; he left the club three days later and returned to football 12 months later, signing a two-year deal to replace Unai Emery at Paris.