Champions League: Where Does Liverpool Go From Here?

Liverpool is out of the Champions League. For the first time since 2006, Liverpool suffers an elimination in the Round of 16. Ironically, Liverpool were also the defending champions at the time. Liverpool is the second consecutive team to lose the Round of 16 as the defending champions as Real Madrid did so last year.

As a result of this loss, Liverpool’s 42-game winning streak at Anfield comes to an end. It’s been a rough few two weeks for Liverpool because, aside from their elimination from the Champions League, they suffered their first Premier League loss of the season, and they were eliminated from the FA Cup. In Liverpool’s case, it’s safe to say that much of the momentum is gone. And it’s going to be difficult for them to ride out the rest of the season.

What Now For Liverpool?

They’re six points from clinching the Premier League title, so that’s what they have to focus on. It’s unfortunate for their momentum and hot streak to all of a sudden go cold, however, there’s only one thing for Liverpool to do and that’s to move on and shift their focus on the future.

Qualifying for next season’s Champions League tournament is Liverpool’s first step to getting redemption. The club knows it must earn the chance of avenging their humiliating exit from this year’s Champions League. Earning a spot in next year’s tournament gives them a fresh start.

Giving Atletico Madrid Credit

At this point, it may be safe to declare Atletico Madrid as a potential favorite to hoist the title this year. After a hard-fought and solid 1-0 win in the first leg at home, A. Madrid knew it wouldn’t be easy to punch their ticket to the final eight on Liverpool’s home turf.

The second leg had to be decided in extra time. At the regular time, the game ended with a 1-0 score for Liverpool. However, that meant that it was 1-1 tie on aggregate, forcing extra time. The outcome of the game shows the consequences of Liverpool’s failure to take advantage of the away goal in the first leg.

It seemed over for A. Madrid when Liverpool’s Roberto Firmino made it 2-0 early in extra time. Three minutes later, A. Madrid’s Marcos Llorente would drill the ball into the net, forcing Liverpool to have to score two in order to advance. A. Madrid wouldn’t allow it as Llorente made it 2-2, which gave A. Madrid a 3-2 aggregate lead. In the closing seconds, Alvaro Morata added a third goal, giving his club a 4-2 aggregate lead, thus sealing Liverpool’s fate. The club’s strong sense of resiliency and concentration is the reason for the win. As far as crumbling under pressure goes, that’s Liverpool’s doing. Furthermore, in A. Madrid’s case, the away goals rule played a role in their victory.

Llorente is the second player in A. Madrid’s history to score two goals in a Champions League game as a substitute. The other is Sergio Aguero who did it in November 2009.

The draw for the quarterfinals takes place on March 20th. So far, along with A. Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig, and Atalanta are through to the final eight.

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