Defending Premier League champion Liverpool can reach the Champions League knockout stage for the fourth straight season with a win over Dutch side Ajax at Anfield on Tuesday.
Liverpool leads Group D with nine points from four matches, two points ahead of both Ajax and Italian side Atalanta.
Injuries Leave Liverpool Short on Depth
Even a draw would leave the Reds in excellent position to qualify. Liverpool’s final match comes against Midtjylland, the Danish side that has yet to score a point in group stage play.
Ideally, the English champions will get through with a game to spare due to Liverpool’s busy schedule in December. Manager Jurgen Klopp says he doesn’t have the roster to rotate players or prioritize certain matches, even if his squad is in position to take a breather.
“I don’t have enough players for doing that,” Klopp told reporters. “So it means we play two days ago and the fittest players for that game were on the pitch, and that will be the case again for this game because, how I said, there are not enough players to make these kind of decisions. I never made this kind of decision – Premier League and Champions League or whatever – because all competitions are for us very, very important.”
Liverpool lost James Milner to a hamstring injury during Saturday’s 1-1 EPL draw at Brighton & Hove Albion. That adds to an injury list that already includes Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez, Xherdan Shaqiri, Thiago Alcantara, Trent Alexander-Arnold, and others.
The depleted roster will only increase the challenge of playing against a talented Ajax side that has proven it can compete at the Champions League level in recent years.
“Ajax Amsterdam is a really good side and since our game is flying pretty much through the league,” Klopp said. “Big results, clear top of the table, very talented, some players coming back – these kinds of things. Yes, I expect a close game.”
Inter Fighting for Survival in Group B
Liverpool comes into the match as a -150 pick to beat Ajax (+360) and remain atop Group D. The Reds won the first group stage encounter between the two sides 1-0 in Amsterdam.
As the Champions League group stage winds down, several teams face critical matchups with advancement on the line, and the Round of 16 picture should begin to clarify on Tuesday.
|Champions League Odds (via FanDuel Sportsbook)|
|Shakhtar: +700||Draw: +450||Real Madrid: -290|
|Lokomotiv: +440||Draw: +330||Red Bull Salzburg: -175|
|Liverpool: -150||Draw: +320||Ajax: +360|
|Atletico Madrid: -115||Draw: +300||Bayern Munich: +270|
|Mgladbach: +200||Draw: +270||Inter: +120|
|Porto: +470||Draw: +300||Manchester City: -170|
|Atalanta: -600||Draw: +650||Midtjylland: +1500|
|Marseille: +140||Draw: +210||Olympiakos: +210|
Group B leaders Borussia Monchengladbach face off against Inter Milan, which finds itself in last place, but still with some hopes of qualifying with two matches to play. Inter is coming off of a 2-0 home loss to Real Madrid, and must get a win in Germany to stay alive for knockout stage advancement. The Italian side enters as a +120 favorite over Monchengladbach (+200).
Also on Tuesday, Atletico Madrid (-115) will host Bayern Munich (+270), with the German side resting some players, having already clinched a spot in the knockout round, while Manchester City (-170) visits Porto (+470).