This would be the worst thing to happen to Liverpool's season

Liverpool cannot afford to risk dropping into the Europa League.

The loss to Basel was disappointing for Liverpool, but no reason to panic just yet.

The Reds appear already to be competing for the runners-up spot with Basel for the Champions League group, with Real Madrid sitting pretty with two wins out of two so far.

And so the next two games are critical.

Liverpool face Real Madrid next home and away, two games in succession, which could have a huge impact on the direction of their final standings.

For while Liverpool battle Real, Basel will have home and away games against Ludogorets, who have impressed during two narrow 2-1 losses, but sit without any points on the board.

There is a very realistic prospect that Liverpool finish third in the group, and that would be an unmitigated disaster.

Third place would mean dropping down to the Europa League, a competition they certainly want no part of.

The Reds would have all the hassle of the extra games and travelling during the second half of the season, without the reward of knowing they are competing in Europe's elite competition - and even at the end of it, would a trophy be greeted with much more than a shrug, knowing they were not good enough to make it out of a comfortable looking Champions League group?

Liverpool must get some points on the board against Real, and hope Ludogorets can make an impact against Basel, and set up a winner takes all final match for Liverpool against Basel in the final group game.

Otherwise a loss away to Ludogorets in the penultimate match could become a necessary evil in finishing bottom, and concentrating on the Premier League altogether

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