Winning the Europa League, Jurgen Klopp’s target so as to secure us Champions League football in 2016/17, is going to be very, very difficult.
If you check out the full list of sides left in the draw, you’ll see why!
- Braga (Portugal)
- Valencia (Spain)
- Sparta Prague (Czech Republic)
- Lazio (Italy)
- Shakhtar Donetsk (Ukraine)
- Athletic Bilbao (Spain)
- Bayer Leverkusen (Germany)
- Liverpool (England)
- Manchester United (England)
- Tottenham Hotspur (England)
- Fenerbahce (Turkey)
- Basel (Switzerland)
- Borussia Dortmund (Germany)
- Sevilla (Spain)
- Villarreal (Spain)
- Anderlecht (Belgium)
The draw will be made at noon UK time.
While there’s no gimmes left in the competition, there’s certainly some teams we’d prefer to be drawn against us than some others.
Three best possible draws:
Anderlecht, Sparta Prague, FC Basel
For us, we’d fancy progressing against the Belgians, the Czechs or the Swiss, who put us out of the 2014/15 Champions League, of course.
Anderlecht would struggle at Anfield, and a short trip to Brussels isn’t daunting. Sparta are an average side, while Basel are beatable – despite their recent success over English teams. Braga wouldn’t be a bad draw either.
Spanish teams are excellent in the Europa League, so we wouldn’t fancy Valencia (newly on-form under Gary Neville) or Athletic Bilbao. A trip to Istanbul against Fenerbahce would also be tricky, as would the nightmarish journey to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk.
Three worst possible draws:
Borussia Dortmund, Sevilla, Manchester United
Dortmund, headed by Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, are the best team in the competition. Regardless of the romantic connections to Klopp, we want to avoid them. Sevilla are the two-time reigning champions and have sublime pedigree in the competition. Manchester United have beaten us twice already this season and will also be pouring their all into the competition as it represents the chance of a Champions League spot next term.
Really, we want to avoid Spurs as well, with Pochettino’s outfit playing so excellently right now.