Klopp 'not surprised' by Elliott display for Liverpool in win
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Liverpool will be back in Champions League action next month as they reap the fruits of their labour from the back end of last season. After a difficult campaign, the Reds went on a fantastic run to finish third in the Premier League and earn another season in Europe’s top club competition – but who will they face in the group stages?
Jurgen Klopp and his players will find out this evening when the draw takes place in Istanbul at 5pm UK time.
They may have endured a disappointing 2020/21 season, in part because of injuries, but Liverpool could find their struggles advantageous this year.
A toppling of the traditional powerhouses across many of Europe’s top leagues means many of the continent’s heavyweights are in Pot 2, rather than Pot 1.
That is good news for Liverpool.
Last season’s Champions League winners Chelsea are in Pot 1 alongside the winners of the top six European leagues – Atletico Madrid (La Liga), Bayern Munich (Bundesliga), Manchester City (Premier League), Inter Milan (Serie A), Lille (Ligue 1) and Sporting Lisbon (Primera Liga) – and Europa League winner Villarreal.
Liverpool cannot face Chelsea or Man City due to Uefa rules prohibiting teams from the same country meeting in the group stages, but all the other Pot 1 sides are possibilities.
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However, a list of the sides in Pot 2 along with Liverpool makes for more happy reading, with Klopp’s team avoiding some tough ties.
The Reds have missed out on Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Manchester United, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and Borussia Dortmund.
It being the Champions League, there are still plenty of tricky opponents Liverpool could draw in Pot 3 and Pot 4.
With qualifying finishing on Tuesday and Wednesday, the make-up of the pots are now confirmed. Here’s how they look.
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Pot 3: FC Porto, Ajax, RB Leipzig, Atalanta, Zenit St Petersburg, Benfica, Shakhtar Donetsk, Salzburg.
Pot 4: Club Brugge, Young Boys, AC Milan, Malmo, Wolfsburg, Sheriff Tiraspol, Besiktas, Dynamo Kyiv.
Taking all of those sides into consideration, a nightmare scenario for Klopp, his staff and players could take a few forms.
The toughest sides from Pot 1 are undoubtedly German champions Bayern Munich and Spanish champions Atletico Madrid.
With Robert Lewandowski, Serge Gnabry and Thomas Muller, among others, the Bavarian side’s front line can hurt any side in the competition.
Meanwhile, two ties against Atletico is a surefire tough task, with Diego Simeone’s side possessing one of the tightest defences in world football.
Pot 3 has some more wildcard picks. Porto are Champions League regulars, Ajax did the domestic double in the Netherlands last season, Atalanta play eye-catching free-flowing football and RB Leipzig usurped Borussia Dortmund as the second-best side in Germany last year.
AC Milan are undoubtedly the biggest fish in Pot 4, but long away trips to Turkish champions Besiktas, Ukraine’s champions Dynamo Kyiv and first-time qualifiers Sheriff Tiraspol of Moldova are sure to be tough.
Taking all of this into account, here are some of the most difficult draws Liverpool could get tonight.
Scenario one: Bayern Munich, Liverpool, Porto, AC Milan.
Scenario two: Atletico Madrid, Liverpool, Atalanta, Dynamo Kyiv.
Scenario three: Inter Milan, Liverpool, Ajax, Besiktas.
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