Liverpool and Spurs Scrape Through to Champions League Knockout Phase

Liverpool and Spurs Scrape Through to Champions League Knockout Phase

 

English football has a full Premier League presence in the Champions League knockout phase when Europe's elite club competition resumes after the winter break.

All four representatives made it through to the knockout phase as Liverpool edged past Napoli in their final group stage game 1-0 and Tottenham pulled off an unlikely qualification from their pool.

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City and neighbours Manchester United both booked their places at Europe's top table for after Christmas with a group game to spare.

Spurs needed to match or better Inter Milan's result to advance and a late equaliser from Brazil winger Lucas Moura at group winners Barcelona ensured their place in the last 16.

Although overhauled at the Premier League summit by Liverpool for the time being, reigning English champions Man City remain red-hot favourites on both the domestic and continental scenes.

City are 7/2 to lift the Champions League with bet365 this season, but also 4/11 in the Premier League betting to retain their crown.

Liverpool, who top the table after 16 league games, are at present four times more fancied for silverware domestically than in Europe.

Jurgen Klopp's Reds are 5/2 second-favourites for the Premier League, but a top price of 10/1 for the Champions League.

It took goals scored to decide who joined PSG in the knockout phase and who dropped into the Europa League from their pool, so Liverpool just edged Napoli.

Their group campaign of three wins and as many defeats saw the Reds unbeaten at Anfield but they go without victory and pointless on the road.

That is cause for concern for Klopp as he could face elite opposition in the next round of the Champions League.

Liverpool's draw is more likely to be tougher than the opposition Man City can meet. Tottenham too could get a tricky tie.

Fresh from battling Barcelona in Europe, Spurs could next face Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, PSG or Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16.

Yet Tottenham (25/1) are shorter odds than Manchester United (40/1), despite Jose Mourinho's men enjoying a smoother passage through the group stage.

The away goal Spurs scored in the San Siro through Denmark playmaker Christian Eriksen proved priceless as it emerged to be the tiebreaker that separated them from Inter.

Although they only lost two group games, Mauricio Pochettino's Tottenham dropped points home and away to 5/1 Champions League second-favourites Barcelona, and also on the road in Italy and at PSV Eindhoven.

Not even Man City have been perfect in Europe as they were stunned in their opening group game by French side Lyon - a team well off the pace set by PSG in their own league both this term and last.

United, meanwhile, join Juventus in the Champions League knockout phase from their pool despite being 16 points adrift of old rivals Liverpool on the home front.

Mourinho has a cut a frustrated and unhappy figure at times during his third season at Old Trafford, but they remain in the hunt in Europe.

Vanessa Coleman

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