Roberto Firmino insists empty stadiums have hindered Liverpool’s title defence but feels the Champions League is a way of salvaging the season.
The Reds began 2021 top of the Premier League but are now in a battle to finish in the top four. The Merseysiders have lost five of their last eight league games and sit 13 points behind table-topping Manchester City.
Jurgen Klopp has already conceded that the Premier League trophy will not be returning to Anfield in May. And, with the club already out of both domestic cup competitions, Europe is the only possible source of silverware.
Liverpool finished top of Champions League Group D to advance to the last-16. They face German side RB Leipzig over two legs, with Tuesday’s first match in Budapest due to coronavirus restrictions.
The return leg will be played at Anfield on March 10. And Firmino knows that it is the perfect way to lift the gloom that has descended on the club.
“We need to react because the season is not going as we expected, and the Champions League is a good place to do it,” he told The Mirror. “We can start from scratch in this competition. We know there is still a chance to win it. We are not happy with many of our latest results, but this can change – and we can do it in this competition.
“The experience of winning the Champions League before was unique, something special for us and for the fans – we’d sign right now to win it again this season.”
Covid-19 the biggest test for Reds
Liverpool waltzed to the title last season. The pandemic meant they had to wait until the summer to complete the formalities and lift the trophy.
The ongoing situation means there have been no fans in grounds this season, with little prospect of that changing this term. The north-west giants have also had to deal with the absence of key defenders.
Firmino believes a combination of the two has done for them.
“Coronavirus and injuries are affecting football a lot this season and that includes us,” he added. “With a normal rhythm of matches we would not have suffered so many Premier League defeats.
“We know from the last months with no fans, it doesn’t matter so much which field you play on.”
It has been a tough few weeks for the champions. But the Brazilian is adamant it can all turn around in a hurry.
“Our season is not going as we wanted, but this year everything can change for you in just 48 or 72 hours,” he continued.
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