Javier Mascherano believes Liverpool can still be a “team to fear” in this season’s Champions League but does not currently see his old club lifting the trophy again come May.
The Reds surrendered their European crown last season when they were on the receiving end of a shock exit by Atletico Madrid.
Two mistakes from stand-in goalkeeper Adrian cost them in the second leg at Anfield, and that scenario is not too indifferent from the one they now find themselves in.
With Jurgen Klopp already conceding defeat in the title race, the Champions League remains their only chance at silverware this season, with their last-16 clash against Red Bull Leipzig up next.
“I think the injuries punished them a lot,” Mascherano told global sports broadcaster, beIN Sports. “They had lost their luck with many injuries at the same [position].
“It was not easy to overcome, but if the club succeeds in bringing back some key players to their normal state, it will be a team to fear in the Champions League.”
Liverpool are still without a host of senior stars, including Fabinho, who has not been able to shake off a muscle injury to take part against Leipzig.
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Klopp will no doubt be hoping to welcome back more of his men for the second leg on March 10 in order for his side to have the best chance of repeating their 2019 success.
And while Mascherano feels Liverpool could force their way into contention, he predicts the trophy will probably go elsewhere.
“Bayern Munich, of course, is one of the great candidates and English teams as well, Manchester City in particular,” he said, when asked who were the most likely winners. “But we have to see how these teams qualify for the final stages.”