Liverpool, Nice and Napoli all in Champions League action this week
We’re at the halfway stage in the hunt for a Champions League group stage place, and while some teams have already booked their place, others have it all to do.
Celtic have all but secured their place in the next round with a 5-0 demolition of Astana at Parkhead, while Liverpool take a 2-1 advantage back to Anfield against Hoffenheim.
Here are the talking points ahead of the second legs this week…
Can Liverpool hold on against Hoffenheim?
By all accounts Liverpool were lucky to escape from Hoffenheim with a win.
Two away goals will calm the nerves but manager Jurgen Klopp now has a decision to make.
Will Liverpool continue with their impressive forward game or will the Reds forgo their attacking principles to see out the tie?
Both choices represent a significant risk, but given the Merseysider’s lack of proficiency in defence, we think it’ll be more of the same at Anfield.
Hoffenheim have dangerous attacking players that could cause the Reds problems, so Klopp’s side will have to be on their guard.
Will an Azerbaijani side qualify for the group stages?
Qarabag are regulars in the Champions League qualifying rounds.
The Azerbaijani champions have reached the qualifying stage in the past three seasons, only to be narrowly knocked out each time.
This year though, things could be different.
Manager Gurban Gurbanov masterminded a 1-0 home victory over Copenhagen in the first leg to leave the club on the brink of group stage qualification.
If the Horsemen can keep it tight in the Danish capital we could be about to see an Azerbaijani club in the Champions League group stage for the first time.
Can Nice stage a comeback against Napoli?
They may have lost 2-0 in the first leg but don’t rule out Nice just yet.
The French side have plenty of goals about them and are a tough nut to crack at the Allianz Riviera.
Equally however, Napoli are ruthless on the road.
Gli Azzurri hit two goals or more on nine occasions away from home in the league last season and can back up their forward prowess with a sturdy defence.
It’ll take some effort for the hosts to stage a remarkable turnaround in this one.
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