Champions League Group E: Haaland poses threat to Liverpool, Napoli primed to progress

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but it comes up against Salzburg which has scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season.

Erling Haaland's threat looms large over Liverpool's progress into the Champions League knockout stage.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Liverpool travels to Salzburg on Tuesday needing to avoid defeat to the confident Austrian champions to guard against an embarrassing Champions League group stage exit for the holders.

Jurgen Klopp’s men are used to getting through to the knockout stages the hard way. In each of the past two seasons they have needed home wins to secure a place in the last 16 before going on to make the final.

However, the spectre of a free-scoring Salzburg, led by the Champions League’s top scorer in Erling Braut Haaland spells trouble for an injury-hit Liverpool backline that has consistently leaked goals this season despite streaking clear at the top of the Premier League.

The Reds’ recorded a first clean sheet in 14 games in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Bournemouth, but lost another centre-back as Dejan Lovren limped off in the first half.

Should the Croatian miss the trip to Austria, Joe Gomez will be Klopp’s only fit partner for Virgil van Dijk in central defence.

Goalkeeper Alisson Becker also missed the first two months of the season due to a calf injury to further unsettle the backline.

The Brazilian is now back, but another injury to Fabinho has robbed the back four of the best player to protect them in the holding midfield role.

In the reverse fixture, Liverpool needed a Mohamed Sahlah winner after having squandered a 3-0 lead at Anfield.

Salzburg has scored 87 goals in 24 games in all competitions this season, 28 of which have come from Norwegian wonderkid Haaland in just 21 appearances.

The 19-year-old started on the bench when the sides met at Anfield due to injury, but came on to inspire the visitor's revival in the second half and scored one of his eight Champions League goals.

Salzburg needs to win to make the last 16 on its first appearance in the group stage in 25 years.

A point would be enough for Liverpool to progress, but it needs to win to secure top spot in Group E ahead of Napoli.

Napoli is currently second on the table with nine points and has a home fixture against bottom-placed Genk.

If Liverpool and Salzburg finishes level on points then the teams will be separated by head-to-head record in the group stage.

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