Liverpool’s worst-case scenario Champions League group stage draw has been doing the rounds on social media, but what might a more positive outcome look like?
As reigning champions, the Reds have the luxury of a Pot One spot.
As has been pointed out, they could still end up with Real Madrid, one of only two teams with more European crowns, Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan and Bundesliga highflyers RB Leipzig.
Equally, though, this might be how the draw ends up:
Pot Two: Shakhtar/Benfica
Shakhtar consistently feature in this competition but as Ukrainian champions, they’re certainly one of the less daunting second-tier options. Many would prefer to avoid a long-haul trip shortly before a Premier League match, so reigning Primeira Liga champions Benfica might be an even better option.
Pot Three: RB Salzburg
Salzburg, the runaway winners of the Austrian Bundesliga, made a big impression on the continent in 2017/18 by reaching the semi-finals of the Europa League, but they clearly represent less dangerous opposition than the likes of Lyon or Bayer Leverkusen.
Pot Four: Club Brugge
Liverpool would surely welcome a relatively short journey to Belgium to take on Simon Mignolet’s Club Brugge, who hold a slender lead over LASK in the qualifying playoffs ahead of the second leg. The likes of Slavia Prague and Apoel Nicosia could also be drawn against the Reds if they progress.
Some fans would welcome a blockbuster group-stage clash. After all, that’s what this competition is all about, and there’s perhaps no team in Europe quite as feared at the moment.
But after scraping through last season, it would be beneficial to wrap-up qualification with a game or two to spare, giving us the opportunity to hand some key players a rest.
We’ll find out the identity of our opponents soon enough, with the draw pencilled in for next Thursday.