Liverpool had the uncommon luxurious of having the ability to watch on as the remainder of Europe’s elite scrapped to hitch them within the final eight of the Champions League.
Not that the Reds have been in a position to put their toes up, given their ongoing pursuit of Manchester Metropolis on the high of the Premier League desk.
The time has come now, although, for Jurgen Klopp’s facet to find their destiny – and the pathway that awaits them if they’re to assert a seventh European Cup.
The draw for each the quarter-finals and semi-finals takes place in Nyon, Switzerland at 11am in the present day (reside on BT Sport and the BT Sport and UEFA web sites) with Liverpool among the many favourites to win the competitors as they chase an unprecedented quadruple.
A lot will depend upon who the Reds are tasked with overcoming en path to the ultimate, which takes place on Saturday, Might 28 on the Stade de France in Paris.
So, who’re the opposite groups within the final eight and what probability have they got of scuppering Liverpool’s European dream?
The common rival: In contrast to Liverpool, Manchester Metropolis have had a fairly easy job to this point within the Champions League, though they have been overwhelmed at Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig within the group stage. The favourites for the competitors, a quarter-final pairing may see Metropolis face the Reds thrice in every week with the ties both facet of the Premier League assembly between the golf equipment on the Etihad subsequent month.
The champions: It is simple to overlook amid the controversy over Roman Abramovich’s possession and subsequent sanctions that Chelsea are the reigning European and world champions. Solely seven factors behind Liverpool within the league – who they misplaced to within the Carabao Cup closing – and nonetheless within the FA Cup, the Londoners will trigger enough issues.
The masters: Irrespective of how they do it, Actual Madrid simply appear to discover a method to attain the latter levels of the Champions League, having made the semi-finals an astonishing 9 occasions within the final 11 seasons. Current historical past is towards the Reds, too, having misplaced to Actual within the quarter-finals final 12 months and the 2018 closing.
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The previous Klopp nemesis: The Liverpool boss will know extra about Bayern Munich than most having tussled for trophies with them throughout his seven years in cost at Borussia Dortmund. Nonetheless, the German giants have wobbled just a little bit within the Bundesliga of late and have been eradicated by the Reds within the Champions League in 2019.
The pest: Manchester United’s defeat to Atletico Madrid within the spherical of 16 could have amused Liverpool followers, but it surely has opened up the potential of the Reds going through the Spaniards having thought they’d seen the final of them throughout the group levels. Diego Simeone’s facet simply love making life awkward for, nicely, everybody.
The brand new youngsters with the outdated head: Arguably Villarreal produced the shock of the spherical of 16 after they resisted the problem of Juventus earlier than scoring thrice late on in Turin earlier this week. Whereas down in seventh in La Liga, the Spanish facet have saved their greatest for Europe. And, after all, they’re helmed by Unai Emery, who outwitted Klopp within the 2016 Europa League closing whereas with Sevilla.
The shock: The progress of Benfica to the knockout levels owed a lot to a 3-0 group win over Barcelona in September, and so they bested Ajax in Amsterdam to achieve the final eight. With acquainted thirtysomethings Jan Vertonghen, Nicolas Otamendi and Adel Taarabt of their ranks, they’ve expertise and in Darwin Nunez probably the most sought-after younger strikers in Europe.
Who would Liverpool need?
As Trent Alexander-Arnold said after seeing off Inter Milan final week, whoever Klopp’s facet face within the quarter-finals is a possible Champions League winner.
Some, although, look much less interesting than others. Familiarity means Liverpool would certainly moderately keep away from Premier League opposition in Manchester Metropolis and Chelsea, though it might be higher to face both facet over two legs moderately than in a closing. Actual Madrid and Bayern Munich are main their respective leagues and can view the Reds as a serious scalp, even when there might be a rating to settle towards the previous.
There would wouldn’t be too many grumbles if Liverpool have been handed a job towards Atletico Madrid, Villarreal or Benfica. Atletico have been outclassed within the group levels whereas the opposite duo lack the energy in depth of the remaining groups within the draw, and would supply a very good away journey for the travelling Reds followers.
Regardless who they face, although, Liverpool and Klopp know the intense Champions League enterprise begins now.