Well, yesterday was a big ol’ disappointment, but Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool can look forward to something that Big Sam never will, playing Champions League football. Despite yesterday’s setback, Liverpool have been on great form, earning 17 of a possible 21 points since their last defeat at Tottenham, and winning their Champions League group in style.
Speaking of the Champions League, Liverpool (and the 15 other clubs remaining in the competition) found out their fate as the Ping Pong Balls of Destiny™ were drawn in Nyon, Switzerland, assisted by one of the players to last help Liverpool lift the Big Ears, Xabi Alonso.
Due to the rules of the draw, Liverpool could not draw Chelsea nor Sevilla, leaving Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Juventus, Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Basel as possible opponents in the Round of 16. Liverpool managed to avoid some of the biggest names, drawing Porto, and what should be a very welcomed trip to Portugal in February. Thanks, Xabi.
As group winners, Liverpool have a distinct mathematical advantage. Since the current format was adopted, group winners have advanced to the quarterfinals 72.3% of the time. One of the advantages is having the second of two legs back within the safe confines of Anfield.
The first leg will be played in Portugal, either on February 13th or 14h, or the following week, the 20th or 21st. The return leg will be at Anfield in March, either the 6th or 7th, or the 13th or 14th.
Liverpool go away to Southampton on February 10th, and host West Ham on the 24th. However, things could get tricky in March, with Liverpool hosting Newcastle on the 3rd, before traveling to Manchester United on the 10th, and hosting Watford on the 17th.
The other fixtures of the Champions League Round of 16 are as follows (with the home side for the first leg listed first):
- Juventus vs. Tottenham Hotspur
- Basel vs. Manchester City
- Sevilla vs. Manchester United
- Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain (!!!)
- Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Roma
- Chelsea vs. FC Barcelona
- Bayern Munich vs. Besiktas