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Europa League Draw: FC Unirea Urziceni

Liverpool draw Romanian side Unirea Urziceni, who finished third in their Champions League group behind Sevilla and Stuttgart.

It has to be said that Liverpool avoided some of the biggest threats (Roma, Juventus, Marseille, et al.), but they'll still be challenged by Unirea. Judging by Rafa's reaction, Liverpool aren't too familiar with the club, but King Kenny assures all interested parties that Liverpool won't be taking them lightly.

It's hurry up and wait time now, as the first leg won't take place until February 18th. The other English sides, Everton and Fulham, drew Sporting and Shaktar Donetsk respectively. Looks like the sexiest tie of the first knockout round will be Ajax and Juventus, but there's plenty of other matchups to intrigue in the inaugural Europa League competition. Full draw results here.

In other news before tomorrow's visit to Fratton Park...

Glen Johnson and Ryan Babel have been declared fit to join the squad. Obviously Johnson will have more of a role to play than Babel, who's going to have to work to get himself back into the good graces of the club after inconsistent displays and even more inconsistent attitude.

Speaking of glowing dispositions, Paul Merson (frontrunner for profile picture of the year) has weighed in on the strength of Liverpool's squad. Using clever literary tricks like "omission" and "writing," Merson pretty much outlines what everybody else knew--even at full strength, Liverpool have some holes in the starting eleven. Wait, what? Is that why they've been losing? Where was this guy in August? He could have saved the season!

Carra has fessed up to opting out of a chance to return to the England side under Fabio Capello. Sounds like it came at a time when England were hurting for first-choice center backs, but he just couldn't commit. I'm fine with it, and he seems to have no ill will towards the current pairing of Rio Ferdinand and John Terry. Besides the club v. country issue, sort of a non-story. Good thing I wrote about it.

There was another draw for another competition today, but the name escapes me.

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