On Tuesday night we saw Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur successfully book their respective places in the Round of 16 of this year’s UEFA Champions League competition. Last night fans were hoping to see Liverpool and Chelsea do the very same thing, but both wound up being held to a draw which will ensure that their fate won’t be decided until the final game of the group stage.
Liverpool had already experienced the full force of taking on Napoli this season, and also have quite a bit of experience with playing them before that. However, despite all of that experience, they just couldn’t seem to get into any sort of rhythm with the Italians. They were slow and they were methodical, and they were put to the sword early on in the game as Mertens was able to give the visitors a much deserved lead.
The tension continues
Firmino led the charge in the second half with a nice effort that was cleared off the line, until eventually, Dejan Lovren of all people was able to pop up and head in the equaliser which ensures that the Reds have their destiny in their own hands heading into the final game.
On the other hand you’ve got Chelsea, who have been locked in a really interesting battle with Valencia and Ajax throughout the entirety of their Champions League campaign this year. They engaged in an utterly frantic back and forth encounter with the Spanish side, to the point where it was hard to tell which way it was going to swing.
Soler gave Valencia the lead late in the first half but Chelsea responded within just a minute, as Kovacic managed to equalise. Pulisic scored early on in the second half to put them into the lead, and they were confident of holding onto that lead right up until the final ten minutes when Wass secured Valencia the point they needed to remain in the hunt. Tammy Abraham also went off with an injury for the Blues, which could be a season-defining moment for Chelsea and Frank Lampard depending on just how serious it actually is.
All to play for?
Liverpool know that a win in their final game with Salzburg will be enough, and, frankly, even a point. However, with Haaland looming large, Jurgen Klopp won’t want to take any risks or chances in the face of what is bound to be a tricky few weeks of Christmas football.
Chelsea, on the other hand, must beat Lille convincingly in order to absolutely assure that they’ll be able to get themselves over the finish line and into the Round of 16. This has been a tough group for the club to contend with and while many fans would see dropping down into the Europa League as a failure, they’re the reigning champions of that competition for a reason, and there’s no shame in losing out to Valencia and Ajax.
With that being said Lampard seems to be hellbent on achieving success in his first season in charge at Stamford Bridge, and they’ve already proven they can get the job done over the French side.