We’re back! Liverpool FC are in the elite of club football, the Champions League. Sadly this time we’re not where we’d want to be when it comes to group seeding.
Regardless who gets through the ‘play off’ stages to make it to the group, Liverpool will be in Pot 3 of the competition, this means that a game against Real, Barcelona, Atletico or Bayern is on the cards. It could also mean however, due to the UEFA coefficient ranking that we could instead face Benfica or Porto. I would happily take on any of the 13 clubs above us in Pot 1 & 2 (English teams cannot be put in the same group so that cancels out Chelsea, Arsenal & Manchester City).
In Pot 1 our possible opponents are Real Madrid, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, Benfica and barring a miracle in the play off, Porto.
As I said I would happily take on any side in this Pot, it’s our 1st season back, we’re all excited so why not get to travel to the Nou Camp, Vicente Calderon, Estadio da Luz, Allianz Arena or the Santiago Bernabéu? They’re all delicious prospects and I look forward to finding out which team it is we face.
From a strictly competitve point of view I’d like us to get Porto or Benfica, Portuguese teams are not known to travel very well and our home advantage will be the catalyst to finish in the top 2 of the group stages.
In Pot 2 we have Schalke, Borussia Dortmund, Juventus, PSG, Shakthar Donetsk, FC Basel & Zenit. It’s a tough one from this choice, Shakthar and Zenit strike you as the more beatable opponents but travelling to Russia/Ukraine and back for our league campaign isn’t really helpful. I’d prefer to face Basel in that case, Switzerland isn’t as far and I am confident if we build our squad we could beat Basel home and away.
Pot 4 is really an unknown entity until the play off’s are done and everyone’s 100% confirmed but at this very moment if the teams expected to go through do so it will be Anderlecht, Red Bull Salzburg, Roma, Steaua Bucharest, Celtic, Bate Borisov & AS Monaco. The team to avoid from this pot is Monaco, although it is a beautiful place for the LFC fans to visit, they are similar to Manchester City in which they are using their unlimited funds to try and create a super team which can reign supreme in Europe. The likes of Falcao, Moutinho, Rodriguez etc. don’t prove easy opponents. I’d have to say Anderlecht strike me as opponents I’d like, Belgium isn’t far to travel at all and they don’t strike anyone as worrying opponents on Europe’s big stage.
The key to Champions League qualification from the group stages is your home form, the past suggests that 10 points is the required amount to progress to the Last 16. It is very rare that a team with 10 points or more will not progress to this stage of the competition. Liverpool’s home form will prove key, we will have 3 games at Anfield to claim maximum points, which with our fans behind us is what we should be looking for regardless who our opponents are. I also believe a draw and a win away from home (not easy tasks I know) would be more than enough to see us into the Last 16 which to me, is where I will be more than happy with our progress.
England have been given a bad name around Europe lately with Chelsea’s negative football, Arsenal never living up to expectation and Manchester City falling short too, so hopefully Liverpool’s free flowing, attacking minded take on the beautiful game shall make us a force to be reckoned with in the competition this season. I however like most fans just hope the Champions League campaign mixed with the Premier League doesn’t slow our progress down. I am confident however that Brendan Rodgers knows exactly what he’s doing.