A win in Paris for Jurgen Klopp's team would certainly put them in the last 16 games – but what about the worst case?
For Liverpool, the big games continue to come.
Jurgen Klopp called this period "the most intense period of the year" and it is difficult to discuss with the boss of the Reds. A defining period? It may be right.
The Merseyside derby, for once, can wait. Sunday's Premier League match is important, but for the moment, it is ridiculous compared to the challenge faced by the Reds on the continent.
Klopp and his players seemed relaxed on their arrival in Paris Tuesday, but there will be no room for complacency. Paris Saint-Germain, a club built for the success of the Champions League, is waiting for them.
The stage is ready, the stakes are high and Neymar should be in shape; Kylian Mbappe too. Edinson Cavani will be there. Thiago Silva. Gigi Buffon. Big names, big tests, big night, more than one title.
Victory, and Liverpool will almost certainly in the last 16 games. They will also be in the box.
Lose, however, and the unthinkable becomes visible. The finalists of last season, the team that marveled the world on their way to Kiev, are they about to fall at the first hurdle this time?
We really should not have gotten there, but a last-minute concession in Naples and a performance shock in Belgrade left Klopp on the precipice. It is likely that they will have to beat Naples at Anfield within a fortnight, perhaps by two goals, to progress.
This is not the worst scenario in the world – remember that the Reds have faced such challenges in the past, but worry nevertheless.
As the feeling of well-being around Anfield grew each week, the win at Watford extended the number of defeats at the start of the Premier League season to 13. An exit of the Champions League would be a blow.
Financially, the impact would be obvious. Liverpool has won just under 70 million pounds ($ 89 million) since racing to the final of last season and will of course aim to lead a campaign as successful and thrilling.
Their participation in the group stage will guarantee them £ 13.5 million ($ 17.3 million), with additional payments of £ 2.4 million ($ 3.1 million) per win and £ 800,000 ($ 1 million). ) by drawing, in addition to their share of the important television rights. UEFA's new "coefficient ranking", which remunerates clubs based on their performances in European competitions over a 10-year period.
Go out now and the Reds will not benefit from a £ 8.4m ($ 10.8m) guarantee to feature in the last 16 games, with additional payments available during the next progression. A race towards the final, for example, would bring them £ 33.1m ($ 42.5m) extra in prizes only.
Sports ramifications, however, would be more important. Liverpool is on an upward curve, but a failure here could slow down its progress. In many ways, it would be a harder blow than their loss to Real Madrid in May.
Remember, this is a team that has been strengthened to meet the demands of competition on many fronts. And while their national campaign is going well, the idea of seeing Liverpool fall into the Europa League after Christmas is no longer appealing to anyone. Except maybe Manchester City.
Thursday night tours to Krasnodar or St. Petersburg would not have any positive impact on the Reds title offer, and it is definitely easier to sell the club to potential transfer targets if you turn on their TV screens. on the big stage every week.
Personalities such as Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keita, Fabinho and Mo Salah subscribed to the vision that Klopp showed them, but this vision ultimately requires tangible success. Without that, like Liverpool for over six years now, there is a risk of drift. You are good, but you are not alone.
Last season was, in many ways, more than football for Liverpool. This marked a return to notoriety for the Reds, a reminder that the five-time European champions can still be a force in this modern era of petrodollars and superclubs. This sparked the hope and enthusiasm that the future club could be as glorious as the past for the most renowned club of English football.
A defeat in Paris, or even against Naples, would not extinguish this hope, but would certainly raise questions. The Liverpool group was tough, but they still believed their chances of progression. Even more after defeating PSG on the first day.
This night was a continuation of the form of last season, a catchy atmosphere and a performance at the height. Anfield special, could we say. That night, I had the impression that nothing had changed. The machine was going to roll.
Outside of their homes, the story was different, the sittings in Naples and Belgrade represented an important step backwards and put the Reds in this precarious situation.
Klopp's team lacked confidence and conviction, it did not pass the ball well and seemed lethargic, especially in the middle of the field.
Klopp took a risk in tinkering with his team in Belgrade, leaving out the key players and trusting those who do not have the sharpness of the game. Do it too often and you will be punished. Liverpool has now lost their last four European matches away from Anfield.
A comeback on Wednesday would be welcome. PSG is a team of stars, but their record in the Champions League shows that they are still far from an elite team.
Ligue 1 is their comfort zone – they have won all 14 games so far this season – but they can still struggle to raise their levels. A win over four group matches indicates that, as well as the outings to Real Madrid, Manchester City and, more famous, to Barcelona these past seasons.
Klopp has been matched by Thomas Tuchel, his counterpart at his recent meetings, noting his memorable match against Borussia Dortmund in the Europa League in 2016 and his superb PSG at the end of September.
Tuchel has more reason to be sick than seeing men in red, and knows that a live group outing would ask about his future at Parc des Princes.
The position of Klopp is of course much safer. There would be no instinctive reaction if Liverpool were to fall, and there should not be any. The club, obviously, is going in the right direction under German.
The trick now is to make sure their trip is not delayed. A victory should do it. As the reds would like to have it in Paris.