Liverpool will shortly learn their European fate ahead of the draw for the 2020-21 Champions League group stage which will take place from 4pm BST on Thursday.
The 2019 winners of the competition will hope to fare significantly better than they did last season following their exit at the last-16 stage last season – failing to make the August mini-tournament in Lisbon.
As reigning Premier League champions, Liverpool are seeded in pot one for the draw alongside Bayern Munich, Sevilla, Real Madrid, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Zenit St. Petersburg and FC Porto.
Jurgen Klopp’s team will be grouped with one team from each of the other three seeded pots, but cannot face a fellow English side at this stage of the competition.
There are therefore five confirmed potential opponents for Liverpool in pot two: FC Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk, Borussia Dortmund and Ajax.
With their squad depth sufficiently bolstered and revenge firmly on their minds, Liverpool looked well-stocked to be one of the main contenders for the biggest prize in club football once again this season.
But without getting too ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the best and worst-case group scenarios Liverpool could be faced with ahead of the draw on Thursday.
Best Case Draw
Pot 2 – Ajax
Ajax would have been Liverpool’s Champions League final opponents in 2019 had it not been for one of the competition’s most heroic comebacks which saw Tottenham come from three goals down on aggregate to triumph 3-2 winners courtesy of a Lucas Moura hat-trick.
Much has changed at the Johan Cruyff Arena since that fateful Champions League semi-final with six of the starting XI against Spurs now moved on at other clubs.
With a 100 per cent start in the Eredivisie, Ajax are still an opposing and threatening team.
Pot 3 – Dynamo Kyiv
Kyiv are the obvious choice from pot three given they didn’t even qualify for the group stages of the competition last season.
The Ukrainian league runners-up have a particularly poor record in Europe after being eliminated in the qualifying stages last term before crashing out of the Europa League group stages not too shortly after.
Pot 4 – Club Brugge
A highly respected outfit who last season were placed in arguably the competition’s group of death alongside Real Madrid, Paris Saint Germain and Galatasaray.
Later in the Europa League, the team Simon Mignolet opted to join from Liverpool last summer were eliminated at the hands of Manchester United.
Worst Case Draw
Pot 2 – Atletico Madrid
Please, Please, Please, oh please lord just not them.
Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund also represent tough draws, but another bout with Diego Simeone’s well-drilled Spanish elites certainly wouldn’t be welcomed following what happend last season.
Liverpool have only ever beaten Atletico on one occasion in their previous six meetings – and that was a 2-1 win which saw them eliminated from the Europa League semi-final on away goals back in 2010.
Adding to the narrative of avoidance, former Liverpool superstar Luis Suarez has been added to the team and is in scintillating form since his move from the Nou Camp.
We’ll say it one more time, just please, not them!
Pot 3 – Inter Milan
Antonio Conte’s Serie A runners-up look a force to be reckoned with in the competition this year. With the likes of Romelu Lukaku, Christian Eriksen, Lautaro Martinez and Achraf Hakimi all at the San Siro helm, Liverpool will certainly look to steer clear of the Italian giants.
Built with an impressive attaching unit, Inter are just as effective defensively having only conceded 36 goals over the course of the 2019/20 Serie A campaign.
Lazio, Atalanta and last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig also represent tough potential opponents.
Pot 4 – Borussia Mönchengladbach
Having finished fourth in the Bundesliga, Gladbach had some impressive results last year, even beating current Champions League holders Bayern Munich back in December 2019.
Highly recognised for their attacking football, it is their solid defence that has been key to their impressive rise in recent seasons having conceded just 40 goals in the German top-flight last season – only Bayern and RB Leipzig conceded less.
Given Germany had two teams in last season’s semi-finals, Gladbach represents a stern potential opposition to come out of pot four.
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