Paris Saint-Germain’s struggles to avoid an embarrassing group stage exit in the Champions League began when they fell victim to the aura of Anfield and Roberto Firmino’s stoppage-time winner for Liverpool in September.
But with the roles reversed and the Premier League side headed to the Parc des Princes on Wednesday with PSG needing to win to keep qualification for the last 16 in their own hands, the French champions can take solace in the fact Liverpool pack a far weaker punch on the road in the Champions League.
Anfield has long been credited as the extra man for the five-time European champions, but rarely has the contrast between Liverpool’s highs and lows in the Champions League been as stark as in the past few months.
Roma were reeling 5-0 down after just over an hour of last season’s semi-final first leg, PSG were outclassed this season despite the narrow margin of the dramatic 3-2 victory and Red Star Belgrade were dismissed serenely 4-0 in October.
Indeed, so easily were the Serbs swept aside that concerns were raised about the growing gulf in resources between European football’s elite and once great powers now relegated to also-rans by the geographical lottery that leaves them outside the continent’s top five leagues.
Last season Liverpool only secured victory on the road twice in Europe and were left hanging on for a 4-2 defeat in Rome that edged Jurgen Klopp’s men through by the odd goal on aggregate. They were then beaten 3-1 by Real Madrid in the final in Kiev.
Two colossal errors by Loris Karius in that final pushed Liverpool to splash out a then world record fee for a goalkeeper in Alisson Becker as part of a £160 million ($205 million, 181 million euros) summer spending spree that also brought in Fabinho, Naby Keita and Xherdan Shaqiri.
And while an upturn in fortunes, particularly defensively, has been seen in an unbeaten start to the Premier League season, it has not yet cured Liverpool’s travel sickness in the Champions League.