Three paths remain for Liverpool to qualify for next season’s UEFA Champions League: they can either 1) beat Brighton & Hove Albion on the final day of the Premier League season, or 2) beat Real Madrid in this season’s UCL final on May 26, or 3) hope that Chelsea drop three points across their final two PL games.
Option no. 1 is, with all due respect to Brighton, easier and with a much higher probability than no. 2, and still marginally more so than no. 3. The old cliche, “It’s a cup final,” immediately comes to mind. Thanks to a 15-goal advantage in the goal-differential column (+42 to +27), even two Chelsea wins would prove futile should the Reds win next Sunday at Anfield to secure a top-four finish.
Following Sunday’s 1-0 defeat away to those very Blues, Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp lamented the result while insisting the performance was perfectly acceptable in his eyes. His side’s run to the Champions League final has undoubtedly taken a lot of his relatively small squad, thus Liverpool are winless in their last three league games (two draws, one loss) — quotes from the BBC:
“I hate the result but the performance was good enough to get a good point. It’s clear against Chelsea you have to avoid crosses, but the cross came in and it’s difficult against (Olivier) Giroud, and that’s the goal.
“Chelsea were strong but we did well and had a few good moments. But we weren’t clinical enough. The performance was okay but the result was exactly the opposite of what we wanted.”
“We don’t have a big squad and we had injury problems, so when the boys that come back don’t have rhythm. We have 11 or 12 players that have been playing constantly, so, now we have one full week and that helps massively.”
“The obvious [cup final] is so far away we don’t think about it and [Brighton] is a very important game for us, but we’ve had a few of them in the past and they haven’t been too bad.”