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Liverpool Face Tough Draw In Champions League Round of 16

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With the likes of Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus, and Bayern Munich as possibilities, Liverpool are all but assured a “big opponent” in the next round

UEFA Champions League and UEFA Europa League - Q1 and Q2 Qualifying Round Draw
BEHOLD! THE PING PONG BALLS OF DESTINY!
Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images

Good news: Liverpool have escaped the Champions League “Group of Death.” Bad news: they find themselves in a bit of a reverse Russian roulette situation, with 5 of the 6 possible draws being teams you’d probably rather face in the later rounds of the competition.

If some Liverpool fans bemoaned the lack of “elite European teams” arriving under the lights at Anfield last season (I, for one, was not among them), they will very likely have that opportunity this time around. In fact, all six of Liverpool’s possible opponents are former European Cup winners.

I’ve listed possible opponents based on their current UEFA Coefficient, but have also included their current league position and Soccer Power Index ranking for context (you’ll never guess who is ranked #2). So let’s go through the list!


REAL MADRID

| 13-Time Winner|
La Liga | 4th Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #1
SPI Ranking: #7

While having a rematch of last year’s final in the Round of 16 might not be ideal, some Liverpool fans are aching for some just desserts after last year’s final. Real Madrid’s league form hasn’t been great, but it wasn’t last year, either. Like Liverpool (only to a much greater degree), Real Madrid has a way of rising to the occasion in Europe’s elite competition, and will always be a dangerous draw. That La Liga is seemingly out of their grasp will only make Real Madrid more focused on their European campaign. Moreover, they managed to beat Roma to the top spot in their group fairly easily, essentially allowing for a night off in the final match against CSKA Moscow.


BAYERN MUNICH

| 5-Time Winner|
Bundesliga | 3rd Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #2
SPI Ranking: #3

Like Real Madrid, Bayern find themselves in the unusual position of being well off the pace set by league leaders Dortmund. In fact, this is even more unusual for the Bavarian giants. Regardless, Bayern remain a very dangerous side who know a thing or two about playing their way into the latter rounds of this competition. Bayern had to fight off a late challenge for group supremacy from a plucky Ajax side, and they will be without Thomas Mueller after his baffling red-card challenge in the last group game.


BARCELONA

| 5-Time Winner|
La Liga | 1st Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #3
SPI Ranking: #4

I’m going to add this to the “Real Madrid/be careful what you wish for” camp. Again, many Liverpool fans would love to get Coutinho back at Anfield, under the lights, in a very hostile ground. However, Barcelona are a great side, one which is topping a surprisingly competitive La Liga, and easily topped their group of Tottenham, Inter, and PSV Eindhoven.


JUVENTUS

| 2-Time Winner|
Serie A | 1st Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #5
SPI Ranking: #5

Perhaps not exactly a rematch, but another showdown with Cristiano Ronaldo would certainly drive the #Narrative going into this matchup. Juve easily topped their group of Manchester United, Valencia, and Young Boys, and are running away with Serie A (as per usual). By the time February rolls around, there’s no doubt that Juve will be solely focused on Champions League glory (or given their history, more likely Champions League runners up).


PORTO

| 2-Time Winner|
Primeira Liga | 1st Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #9
SPI Ranking: #21

Porto in the Round of 16? Hmm, feels familiar. Porto topped the pillow fight that was Group D, racking up 5 wins and a draw against Schalke, Galatasaray, and Lokomotiv Moscow.


DORTMUND

| 1-Time Winner|
Bundesliga | 1st Place
UEFA Coefficient Ranking: #11
SPI Ranking: #14

Let’s be honest, who doesn’t want a bit of El Kloppico in the Champions League? Dortmund are crushing it in the Bundesliga, and pipped Atletico Madrid to the top spot in Group A. They might not be one of the four “Giants” above, but they very well could show Liverpool the exit. Of course this matchup would also be heavy on the narrative, especially after the last European showdown in the quarterfinals of the 2015/16 Europa League. I’m sure Dortmund would still like a bit of revenge, but the higher than average cross-over between fanbases all but ensures some good feelings going into this one.