Group C kicks off with a heavyweight contest between last season’s runners-up Liverpool and big-spending Paris Saint-Germain at Anfield with both sides looking to lay down an early marker in this season’s Champions League.
After both sides had broken the previous record for group stage goals in 2017-18 – PSG scoring 25 goals, Liverpool 23 – each found their campaigns halted by Spanish giants Real Madrid. While Paris bowed out to the Spanish side in the last 16 – the second successive year in which they had fallen at that hurdle – Liverpool made it all the way to the final only to lose 3-1 to Madrid in Kyiv, and thus missing out on a sixth European title.
These sides met in European competition back in the 1996-97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finals, when PSG took control of the tie with a 3-0 first-leg win at the Parc des Princes – although they had to survive a scare back on Merseyside, going through despite a 2-0 defeat. The final ended in a 1-0 loss to Barcelona.
Liverpool finished fourth in the Premier League in 2017-18 to ensure their participation in this season’s competition. They are in the group stage for the second season running, having featured once in the previous seven.
The five-time winners reached their eighth European Cup final in 2017-18, when they won five of their seven UEFA Champions League home matches (qualifying included), drawing the others. During that campaign they scored an average of 3.15 goals per game.
The Reds have won their last two home matches against French sides – most recently a 2-1 defeat of Bordeaux in the 2015-16 UEFA Europa League group stage – having lost two of the previous three. Overall, their record at Anfield against Ligue 1 visitors is excellent, standing at W11 D1 L2.
Paris St Germain were Ligue 1 champions in France for the fifth time in six years in 2017-18, and seventh time overall, this is the French side’s seventh successive UEFA Champions League campaign.
They were semi-finalists in 1995, but have been knocked out in the round of 16 in the last two seasons – having been eliminated in the quarter-finals in the four previous campaigns.
The Parisian club have lost their last two away European games 3-1, at Real Madrid in the round of 16 first leg and Bayern München on matchday six last season, and they have lost their last three European matches – equalling the worst run in their history. They last lost three in a row between 2002 and 2004.
A good UEFA Champions League start is always important. Liverpool will hope to build on a promising few weeks in the Premier League. The French side may be satisfied with an away draw while Klopp’s side must avoid an opening night home loss.