Liverpool need only to avoid defeat against Spartak Moscow on Wednesday to secure their spot in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds, but manager Jurgen Klopp said his side are viewing the clash as an "all or nothing" fixture.
The Reds can guarantee top spot in Group E with a win over Spartak at Anfield and Klopp insisted his side will play for victory even though a draw would be enough to see them into the next round, per Andy Hunter in the Guardian:
"It is a proper final, all or nothing. We know about the situation. They know the situation. It is Champions League. It is always important but the last game of the group stage is most important if you have to play for something, which we obviously have. It is exciting. All or nothing means you can either win or you lose. We know we can draw but this information is only useful after the game. We cannot play for that and we do not want to."
Liverpool are the only one of the five English sides in the Champions League who have yet to secure their spot in the last 16.
They looked to be on their way to qualifying with a game of the group stage to spare when they were 3-0 ahead at half-time in their last fixture against Sevilla, but they ended up drawing 3-3.
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90+3’: Sevilla 3-3 Liverpool https://t.co/Ae9zSAnR3D2017-11-21 21:36:22
The Merseyside outfit's destiny remains in their own hands as they are top of the group, but there could be some nerves around Anfield on Wednesday, especially if Spartak take the lead.
A defeat for Liverpool, paired with a victory or draw for second-placed Sevilla over Maribor on Wednesday, and the Reds would be condemned to the UEFA Europa League.
Liverpool have not qualified for the knockout rounds of the Champions League since the 2008-09 season, when they were knocked out in the quarter-finals by Chelsea.
Klopp highlighted the fact that making it out of Group E on Wednesday would signify huge progress for Liverpool, per Hunter:
"It would be major progress. I am not sure exactly when Liverpool last reached the knockout. Eight years? A long time. You only play the group stage as Liverpool to come through to the last 16. We all know if we do then we have a chance to reach the next round but first we have to make it. It is a tight group. We had some influence on that. We played good games and had good results but not enough points to go through already and now we have to finish the job."
There will be immense pressure on the Liverpool side that take to the pitch at Anfield, but they go into the clash in fine form having won their last two Premier League fixtures by a combined 8-1 scoreline.
The hosts will also be buoyed by the fact they managed to get a 1-1 draw against Spartak when they faced them in Moscow back in September.
A similar result on Wednesday would see Liverpool through to the next stage, but Klopp is eager for his side to earn a win to guarantee top spot.