Liverpool's Champions League group: All the permutations ahead of the final matches

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Liverpool may be cruising at the top of the Premier League but the European champions haven’t had it all their own way in the Champions League this season.

Like the previous two campaigns, Jurgen Klopp’s side need a result in their final group game to secure passage into the knockout stages.

During the 2017/18 season, Liverpool needed a point at home against Spartak Moscow to guarantee qualification. They did it in style with a 7-0 victory.

Then, after three away defeats in the group last season, the Reds were required to beat Napoli by two goals or 1-0. They did the latter before going on to win the competition for a sixth time.

And they now find themselves in an all too familiar position this evening as they travel to Salzburg knowing a defeat could send them tumbling into the Europa League.

Group E is on a knife-edge with Liverpool leading the way with 10 points, Napoli are second with nine points and Salzburg on seven. Bottom-place Genk are on one point.

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And the Reds will be visiting a Salzburg side that have already scored 16 goals in the competition - with 19-year-old wonderkid Erling Braut Haaland scoring in all five games so far.

This is a very dangerous match.

SOCCER CL GROUP STAGE DAY5 KRC GENK VS SALZBURG

Unlike in the Premier League, if teams are level on points it goes to head-to-head record. If that’s also level, it will go on the higher number of away goals scored in those head-to-head matches.

With Liverpool only narrowly beating Salzburg 4-3 at Anfield, they've been put in a tricky situation.

So, what do Liverpool need to qualify?

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Obviously a win will guarantee top-spot but you need a degree in algebra to work out all the possible permutations if they fail to do that.

Luckily, someone on Reddit has done the hard work for us.

They’ve worked out how the final table would look with every possible scenario.

*Remember, finishing top means you face a side that finished second in their group in the last-16. Finishing second will see you face a side that topped their group. It could be the difference between facing Barcelona or facing Zenit (no offence to Zenit)*

LIVERPOOL WIN AND NAPOLI WIN

  • Liverpool go through as group winners
  • Napoli go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated 
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LIVERPOOL WIN AND NAPOLI/GENK DRAW

  • Liverpool go through as group winners
  • Napoli go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL WIN AND GENK WIN

  • Liverpool go through as group winners
  • Napoli go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL DRAW AND NAPOLI WIN

  • Napoli go through as group winners
  • Liverpool go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL DRAW AND NAPOLI/GENK DRAW

  • Liverpool go through as group winners
  • Napoli go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL DRAW AND GENK WIN

  • Liverpool go through as group winners
  • Napoli go through in second place
  • Salzburg go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL LOSE AND NAPOLI WIN

*Liverpool eliminated unless equal with Salzburg on head-to-head GD while scoring at least four away goals (eg. 5-4 loss, 6-5 loss)

  • Napoli go through as group winners
  • Salzburg go through in second place
  • Liverpool go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL LOSE AND NAPOLI/GENK DRAW

*Liverpool eliminated as UEFA rules require comparing head-to-head GD totals of ALL teams equal

  • Napoli go through as group winners
  • Salzburg go through in second place
  • Liverpool go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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LIVERPOOL LOSE AND GENK WIN

*Salzburg win group on GD unless Liverpool score at least four away goals (eg. 5-4 loss, 6-5 loss)

  • Salzburg go through as group winners
  • Liverpool go through in second place
  • Napoli go into the Europa League
  • Genk are eliminated
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Conclusion:

It could be a very nervy night for the European champions.

If they had beaten Napoli two weeks ago, they would have taken a weakened side to Austria with top-spot having already been secured.

Now, a defeat would almost certainly mean elimination from the group and see them enter the Europa League - something that nobody wants.

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Salzburg score goals for fun and Liverpool have found clean sheets very hard to come by this season. There's guaranteed to be goals!

In the other fixture, Liverpool will be hoping Genk can capitalise on the unrest at Napoli and pull off a shock result.

But Klopp will be telling his side all they need to do is win and guarantee top-spot and not to even think about anything else.

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