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Liverpool yet to replicate their domestic form plus 10 things we learned from the Champions League

 

Five more teams qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League this week following another round of fixtures in Europe’s elite club competition.

Liverpool need a point from their final group game against RB Salzburg to qualify while Chelsea need a win to book their place in the last-16 after a thrilling 2-2 draw with Valencia.

There was plenty of talking points across the continent. So Sportsmail’s SAM McEVOY has taken a look at 10 things we learned from Tuesday and Wednesday night’s action in the Champions League.

Liverpool need a point from their final group game after being held to a 1-1 draw with Napoli

Liverpool need a point from their final group game after being held to a 1-1 draw with Napoli

1. There’s a feel-good feeling at Spurs… but they’re still leaking goals

In the space of a week, Tottenham have won away from home for the first time in the Premier League since January, qualified for knockout stages of the Champions League and have scored seven goals in two games.

It’s fair to say that Jose Mourinho’s arrival at the club has made a real impact since succeeding Mauricio Pochettino as manager last week.

And while the mood around the club has changed dramatically in the last seven days – the fact that they can’t stop conceding hasn’t.

The north London outfit got off to a disastrous start against Olympiacos on Tuesday night, shipping two simple goals in the space of 15 first-half minutes.

While the decision to sacrifice Eric Dier on the half-hour mark turned out to be a masterstroke from the Special One, Mourinho will certainly not want to be put in that position again going forward.

Tottenham conceded twice within 20 first-half minutes against Olympiacos on Tuesday

Tottenham conceded twice within 20 first-half minutes against Olympiacos on Tuesday

 

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2. Liverpool yet to hit their usual heights in Europe

Liverpool have looked unstoppable domestically for the past year now and are currently unbeaten in the Premier League after 13 games.

However, for some reason, Jurgen Klopp has been unable to translate that same invincibility in the group stage games of the Champions League.

While they are top of their group, Liverpool are yet to confirm their spot in the next round but should advance barring any catastrophic slip-up against RB Salzburg next month.

Their 1-1 draw with crisis-club Napoli means Liverpool are on their worst run for keeping clean sheets since 1998 – something Klopp will be desperate to rectify.

They also lost key-man Fabinho after 19 minutes due to an ankle injury with the Brazilian later seen in a protective boot after the game.

Not quite panic stations for Klopp just yet but he would have certainly liked qualification all wrapped up earlier than this.

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp screams in frustration during Liverpool's clash with Napoli

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp screams in frustration during Liverpool’s clash with Napoli

3. Flick makes Bayern tick

Robert Lewandowski stole the headlines in Belgrade on Tuesday night and rightly so.

The prolific marksman scored four goals in 14 minutes as Bayern Munich thumped Red Star 6-0.

Since the sacking of Niko Kovac, Bayern have been ruthless and have seen off the likes of Fortuna Dusseldorf and Borussia Dortmund in emphatic fashion.

Bayern’s temporary boss Hans-Dieter Flick is really making a name for himself and is showing why he deserves the job on a permanent basis, or at least until the end of the season.

In the five games he’s been in charge, Bayern have scored 18 goals and have conceded just once.

Bayern's temporary boss Hans-Dieter Flick is showing why he deserves to keep the job until the end of the season

Robert Lewandowski scored four goals in 14 minutes as Bayern Munich thumped Red Star Belgrade 6-0

Bayern’s boss Hans-Dieter Flick (left) and Robert Lewandowski (right) celebrate their 6-0 win

4. City’s defensive woes go on

Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure on the touchline at the Etihad on Tuesday night, as Shakhtar Donetsk held his Manchester City side to a 1-1 draw.

It’s well documented that City are going through a defensive crisis at the moment, with Fernandinho being deployed as a centre back while Aymeric Laporte and John Stones continue to recover from injuries.

Tuesday’s result also means they’ve not kept a clean sheet in six games in all competitions.

City have secured their spot in the knockout stages but it appears Guardiola is intent on plugging the gaps in his defence, so be sure to expect a shopping spree once the transfer window reopens in January.

Man City boss Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure on the touchline on Tuesday night

Man City boss Pep Guardiola cut a frustrated figure on the touchline on Tuesday night

5. Chelsea push their luck… and get away with it

Chelsea played out a 2-2 draw with Valencia at the Mestalla in what was one of the most entertaining games on Wednesday evening.

An 82nd-minute equaliser from Daniel Wass meant the two sides couldn’t be separated on the night but it could have been a lot worse for Frank Lampard’s men.

With seven minutes of stoppage time, Blues fans held their breath as Valencia striker Rodrigo missed an absolute sitter to win the game and leave Chelsea’s qualification hopes in tatters.

Should that Rodrigo effort gone in, Chelsea would have been facing the likely prospect of playing on Thursday nights again.

Valencia striker Rodrigo (bottom) missed a glorious chance to win the game against Chelsea

Valencia striker Rodrigo (bottom) missed a glorious chance to win the game against Chelsea

6. Nou Camp remains a fortress

Barcelona put to bed any worries that they wouldn’t qualify for the knockout stages by beating Borussia Dortmund 3-1 inside their iconic stadium.

The result means that Barcelona still haven’t lost at home in Europe since 2013, where they have won 33 out 37 games at the Nou Camp.

In that time, they’ve scored 105 goals and conceded just 17 times – a staggering total.

That run will continue into the new year considering their last group game will take place at the San Siro against Inter Milan.

Barcelona haven't lost at home in Europe since 2013 – winning 33 out 37 games at Nou Camp

Barcelona haven’t lost at home in Europe since 2013 – winning 33 out 37 games at Nou Camp

7. Red Bull gives you wings

Both Red Bull-owed teams are flying at the moment. RB Leipzig qualified for the knockout stages of the Champions League for the first time in their 10-year history on Wednesday.

A stoppage-time brace from Emil Forsberg saw the Bundesliga side wipe out Benfica’s two-goal cushion in the dying embers to seal qualification to the competition’s next stage.

Meanwhile, in Austria, RB Salzburg have one of Europe’s most promising talents on their hands.

Erling Haaland became the first teenager to score in five successive Champions League games on Wednesday as Salzburg thumped Genk 4-1.

The Austrian outfit still have to beat Liverpool if they’re going to follow their sister club into the last 16 of the Champions League.

Emil Forsberg scored twice in stoppage time to complete RB Leipzig's remarkable comeback against Benfica

Erling Haaland became the first teenager to score in five successive Champions League games on Wednesday

RB Leipzig qualified for the last 16 while RB Salzburg’s Erling Haaland (right) just can’t miss

8. Benzema hot form continues

It’s that man yet again who’s continues to bang in the goals for Real Madrid.

Karim Benzema was on hand to score a goal in either half during the 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

The Frenchman’s brace looked to have secured all three points against the Ligue 1 giants but a late comeback meant Real had to settle for a draw.

Benzema has now scored four goals in the Champions League and while notching 10 domestically, putting him in the good books of the Bernabeu faithful.

Karim Benzema scored in either half before PSG netted twice late on in a 2-2 draw with Real

Karim Benzema scored in either half before PSG netted twice late on in a 2-2 draw with Real

9. Rakitic receives a standing ovation

Much has been said about Ivan Rakitic’s future at Barcelona, with reports continuously linking him with moves away from the club.

Ernesto Valverde offered him a rare start against Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday night and he showed that he can still offer plenty in the heart of Barcelona’s midfield.

And the fans inside the Nou Camp knew it too, with all four corners rising to their feet to applaud the Croatian as he left the field in the 78th minute.

Ivan Rakitic received a standing ovation as he left the field on Wednesday evening

Ivan Rakitic received a standing ovation as he left the field on Wednesday evening

10. Lautaro Martinez justifies Catalan interest

Lautaro Martinez continues to go from strength-to-strength under Antonio Conte at Inter Milan.

The 22-year-old scored a brace in the 3-1 win over Slavia Prague on Wednesday night, making him one to watch out for as the season rumbles on.

His two strikes in Prague means he has scored five goals in five Champions League games for Inter this season and it’s not hard to see why he’s on Barcelona’s radar.

Barca’s technical director Eric Abidal openly admitted last week that the Argentine is a target for them as they prepare to find a replacement for Luis Suarez.

If he continues his hot streak in front of goal, Barcelona will have to fork out a lot of money to pry him away from the San Siro.

Lautaro Martinez scored a brace in Inter Milan's 3-1 win over Slavia Prague on Wednesday

Lautaro Martinez scored a brace in Inter Milan’s 3-1 win over Slavia Prague on Wednesday

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