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UEFA hand Liverpool two Champions League fixture advantages as Mohamed Salah can replicate heroics

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UEFA hand Liverpool two Champions League fixture advantages as Mohamed Salah can replicate heroics

Because of the World Cup’s impact on the football calendar, Liverpool’s Champions League campaign begins in less than two weeks.

Against this backdrop, UEFA has wasted no time in revealing the dates of the matches: fans will now need to quickly plan a trip to Italy for early September.

While this is far from ideal, the overall order of the fixtures will please Liverpool— particularly Mohamed Salah.

Finally, everyone has to play each other twice, and the order only makes a minor difference, but Jürgen Klopp will be pleased with the way UEFA dealt the cards.

In fact, it is possible to argue that Liverpool has benefited from the way the Champions League fixtures have fallen. 

To begin with, while an away game at Napoli is the most difficult way for the group to begin, it is also difficult for the Italians.

They must then travel to Ibrox, where the intensity could easily catch them off guard, before returning to the road to face Ajax.

Liverpool followed by two away trips could put Napoli in serious trouble at the halfway point.

Despite being drawn from Pot Three, the Serie A side is likely to be Klopp’s main rival in the group, but it doesn’t take a particularly vivid imagination to see them as meaningless after three matchweeks.

That would give Liverpool some much-needed breathing room.

If Napoli then won at home against Ajax and Rangers, everyone would have taken points off each other, which would be ideal for Klopp as he seeks another easy path to the knockout stages.

However, Liverpool’s calm progression last season was a departure from tradition.

Previously, they had a habit of doing things the hard way, and Napoli were key players in one of the recent close calls.

In 2018/19, the year Klopp finally won the trophy, the outcome was almost entirely different.

To avoid relegation to the Europa League, Liverpool needed to win their final group game against Napoli at Anfield. Salah delivered the goods, but it took some heroics from Alisson to get the team over the line.

Salah will be licking his lips at the prospect of a repeat, even if there is no longer a Kalidou Koulibaly to brush past.

Liverpool should not have to go down to the wire again, but in such a competitive group, anything is possible. 

As a result, being at Anfield for the final game is extremely beneficial. The intangible magic of European nights under the lights can provide that extra 1% needed at critical times.

Liverpool’s journey is likely to be defined by back-to-back games against Rangers in the middle of the group stage.

In theory, they should take six points — but the Glaswegians will inevitably take points off someone at some point, and if Klopp fails to navigate these fixtures, the final match against Napoli will take on added importance.

If it comes to that, Salah, Alisson, and Liverpool will be ready. A frantic match at Anfield rarely favours the visitors, as Napoli discovered — it’s a deceptively difficult group, but UEFA may have handed Klopp a Champions League advantage or two.

The fixtures in full:

September 7: Napoli (A)

September 13: Ajax (H)

October 4: Rangers (H)

October 12: Rangers (A)

October 26: Ajax (A)

November 1: Napoli (H)

UEFA hand Liverpool two Champions League fixture advantages as Mohamed Salah can replicate heroics

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