Liverpool qualify for 2020/21 Champions League before a ball is even kicked against Atletico Madrid

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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - Chelsea's 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United in the Premier League means the Reds are already guaranteed a top four finish

Liverpool's Roberto Firmino during training. Reuters

Liverpool's Takumi Minamino, left, and Mohamed Salah during a training session at Melwood training ground on Monday. PA

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during training at Melwood training ground. PA

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah trains on Monday. Reuters

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk with Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and teammates at Melwood during training. Reuters

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah during a training session at Melwood. PA

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp oversees the training session on Monday. PA

Liverpool's Naby Keita during a training session on Monday. PA

Liverpool's Jordan Henderson with teammates during training. Reuters

Liverpool players head onto the pitch for a training session at Melwood training ground. PA

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Steve Luckings

Feb 18, 2020

February 18, 2020

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Liverpool face Atletico Madrid in the knockout stages of the Champions League on Tuesday safe in the knowledge that their place in next season's competition is already secured.

Chelsea's 2-0 defeat at home to Manchester United on Monday means the Reds - a staggering 25 points clear at the top of the Premier League - are already guaranteed a top four finish with a third of the season remaining.

Jurgen Klopp's side have 76 points from 26 games - 36 points more than fifth-placed Tottenham Hotspur.

The safety net means that Spurs, who face Chelsea in the league this weekend, could win all of their remaining 12 fixtures and Liverpool lose all theirs and Chelsea - currently fourth - would still only be able to amass 74 points.

The astonishing statistic sees Liverpool, the reigning European champions, become the first team to qualify for next season's competition, even before the first of their two-legged last-16 clash against Atletico, with the first leg at the Metropolitano Stadium tonight.

As things stand, second-placed Manchester City are set to be banned from next season's Champions League, meaning their spot will be taken by the team that finishes fifth. City are appealing Uefa's decision.

Liverpool need five more victories to clinch a first English championship since 1990, which, in theory, could see them crowned Premier League champions at Anfield on March 7 when they host Bournemouth, assuming they win all their matches. It would also require Manchester City, and Leicester City in third, slipping up.

Manchester United hold the record for the earliest Premier League title win, with Alex Ferguson's men claiming the trophy in 2000/01 on April 14.

Updated: February 18, 2020 11:47 AM

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