Liverpool will face a familiar and formidable hurdle in next year’s Champions League after the Round of 16 draw pitted them against holders Real Madrid.
A repeat of last season’s final was Monday’s draw draw at UEFA headquarters in Nyon, where Paris Saint-Germain were paired with Bayern Munich in another heavyweight contest. There have been more favorable draws for England’s other representatives in the last 16, with Manchester City facing RB Leipzig, Tottenham facing Milan and Chelsea facing Borussia Dortmund.
This trio of Premier League clubs will all miss the first leg, which takes place on February 14, 15, 21 and 22, after winning their respective groups. The return matches will be played three weeks later, on March 7, 8, 14 and 15.
Liverpool finished second in Group A and landed the toughest English club assignment as a result. The last game of the round of 16 will be the fourth time Klopp’s side have met Real in six seasons, with the Spanish club winning the previous three times; the 2022 and 2018 finals as well as the 2021 quarter-final, played behind closed doors. Vinicius Junior’s goal settled the latest encounter in Paris, where appalling treatment of fans by local authorities and UEFA overshadowed European football’s showpiece event.
“I know we’ve faced Real Madrid in a couple of recent finals, but it’s not that often our two clubs have met in a draw, so now we can expect that to happen. “, Klopp said. “Real’s European record is the best at the moment. We know that. But we also know ours isn’t too bad. On top of that, we know we have Anfield and everyone knows what that means. .
“It’s a really good draw. A really exciting draw. The games themselves are still a few months away, but it doesn’t take much of the imagination to imagine what the atmosphere of both games will be like.
City will be confident of continuing their quest for a maiden Champions League title after drawing against Leipzig, whom they beat 6-3 at home in the group stage last season before losing a dead rubber in Germany 2 -1. City director of football Txiki Begiristain admitted Pep Guardiola’s side ‘don’t like’ coming up against German opposition in a box-to-box style, but noted some favorites to win the competition will be eliminated by the quarter-finals.
Begiristain said of Leipzig: “They are growing as a club and growing as a project. It’s German football – a very open, box-to-box game, which we don’t like too much, because we always like to be in control – so it’s going to be difficult that kind of football. We were able to win the game at home, but we struggled a lot. We have to be very careful.
He added: “Some big names and big clubs have already come out – some of them are no longer playing in Europe as they were last in the group. It shows how difficult it is in this competition. Liverpool and Real Madrid are two incredible clubs, and they were two of the candidates to win, but one will be eliminated. But still those who are there in the quarter-finals are going to deserve to be there. We want to be one of them.
Spurs face Italian champions Milan, whom Antonio Conte has beaten more times in his managerial career than any other club (10 in all competitions), while Dortmund are set to pose a tough test to Graham Potter in the the Chelsea manager’s first campaign in the Champions League.
The other matches will pit Club Brugge against Benfica, Eintracht Frankfurt against Napoli and Internazionale against Porto.
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