THE Champions League nights are back at Anfield, after Liverpool breezed past Hoffenheim with a 6-3 aggregate win.
Having successfully manoeuvred that crucial Champions League playoff, The Reds can now look forward to participating in the group stages for the first time since the infamous 2014-15 campaign that saw Brendan Rodgers field Javi Manquillo, Lazar Markovic and Fabio Borini against Real Madrid in the Santiago Bernabeu.
The Reds will also be looking for a longer stay in the competition this time round than their last involvement, after a humiliating group-stage exit at the expense of FC Basel.
Since Liverpool were last in the Champions League there has been a change to the drawing process, with the first pot no longer decided by UEFA seeding, but instead containing the domestic champions of the eight leading UEFA confederations. Then the remaining three pots are determined by coefficient rankings, meaning that teams like Barcelona now find themselves in pot two of the draw.
The draw takes place in Monaco at 5pm today and, with Liverpool being in pot three, the draw will not be easy regardless, however, there are some big teams that they will want to avoid in their quest for a sixth European Cup.
|Pot 1||Pot 2||Pot 3||Pot 4|
|Bayern Munich||Atletico Madrid||Tottenham Hotspur||Feyenoord|
|Juventus||Borussia Dortmund||Olympiakos||RB Leipzig|
|Monaco||Manchester City||AS Roma||Qarabag FK|
|Spartak Moscow||Porto||Besiktas||Sporting Lisbon|
|Shakhtar Donetsk||Manchester United||Liverpool||APOEL Nicosia|
The Best Case Scenario
The best possible draw for Jürgen Klopp’s men would involve a mixture of short travelling time and reduced quality of opposition. This means that, while Benfica may be better than Shakhtar Donetsk, because of the time it takes to travel to the Stadium of Light, they are the more favourable draw.
Sevilla would be a tough team to face given their European pedigree in recent years, particularly after their Europa League final win in 2016. But given the quality of some of the other teams in pot two, such as Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, Los Rojiblancos would be an easier option.
In pot four, Liverpool would probably see Maribor as their best option, having only ever beaten an English opponent once in eight attempts. Although, most supporters may prefer Ayia Napa away with a trip to APOEL Nicosia.
The Worst Case Scenario
The worst possible draw for Liverpool would include, from pot one, the reigning champions of the competition for the past two seasons, Real Madrid. Liverpool were battered by them at Anfield in 2014-15, as well as that infamous Bernabeu trip.
From pot two, it would be good to avoid PSG following their world-record signing of Neymar from Barcelona. The Parisian team rather surprisingly came second in Ligue 1 last season, but they remain a big threat, especially with the capture of Neymar, his compatriot Dani Alves and the impressive form of Uruguayan striker Edinson Cavani.
Leipzig’s surge up the Bundesliga will be well known to Reds fans, following Liverpool’s attempts to capture star midfielder Naby Keita, and they would be the team to avoid in pot four, having finished in second last season and given they have managed to keep many of their star names, much to The Reds’ frustration.
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I’d rather have Porto than Sevilla from pot 2, but over all I do agree.
Maybe CSKA avoidable as well from pot 4.
RB might be decent (quality of German league notwithstanding) but I would rather that than a trip in mid-winter all the way to Moscow to play CSKA. Don’t they also have a synthetic pitch?
My ideal: Monaco (weakened), Barca (weakened), Celtic (Scottish) – but a fun group
My not ideal: Shakhtar Donetsk (travel, cold), Paris Saint-Germain (stronger), CSKA Moscow (travel, cold)